Pr. Geo. Dems: No Advice on Slots.
Maryland Moment (Post blog), 10 Sep 2008 (Helderman)
A deeply divided Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee voted last night to offer county party members no guidance about how to vote on Maryland's slots referendum in November.Comment. I wonder what position the Republican Central Committee will take on slots. There is nothing about slots on their web site. In fact, I wonder if there still is a Republican Central Committee--the list of committee members seems to have been removed from the site.
A sizable portion of the committee wanted to tell voters they should vote "no" on the question -- a proposal to do exactly that died on a 11 to 12 vote. But other committee members suggested taking a position on the issue could "cloud" support for Sen. Barack Obama (D), by highlighting a divisive issue. No committee members supported advising voters to approve the referendum.
Opposition to the slots referendum runs deep in Prince George's, where many influential church leaders are against the proposal. Some opponents argue that gambling targets residents living in low-income neighborhoods, like some of Prince George's inner-beltway communities.
Still, urging residents to vote "no" on the referendum would represent a repudiation by the local party of Democratic leaders Gov. Martin O'Malley and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert). Both support slots as a way to raise revenue, as the state faces economic hard times. Miller's district includes part of Prince George's.
Comptroller Peter Franchot, a prominent opponent of slots, was present last night to urge a "no" vote by the committee.
"We need you," Franchot told committee members. "We need you because all the powers that be say you gotta have this. Mike Miller says, you gotta have this. He's said it for years. He's wrong."
The local party's recommendations on referenda are included on sample ballots handed out at the polls on Election Day, considered an important way to sway voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic county.