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Horse Industry Slams Ehrlich

Representatives of Maryland's horse-racing industry yesterday sharply criticized former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for voicing opposition to the state's slots referendum, suggesting that the Republican was trying to deny a victory to his Democratic successor.

Ehrlich, who spent much of his four-year tenure lobbying unsuccessfully to legalize slot-machine gambling, said Saturday that Gov. Martin O'Malley's decision to put the issue before voters in November is "bad policy."

"Most people I've talked to can't understand why he's flipped like this," said Richard J. Hoffberger, president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "It sounds like partisan politics."

"It's a new low in Maryland politics," added Gerard Evans, a lobbyist for the association.

Former aides to Ehrlich said they were surprised by the outcry, given that Ehrlich has made similar comments previously on the radio show he co-hosts with his wife, Kendel. Saturday's broadcast was largely devoted to the slots issue..

"What people need to understand is, this is not my bill, this is not even anywhere close to my bill," Ehrlich said during the show on Baltimore's WBAL-AM. "I want to see a future for horse racing in Maryland, but this is just a bad way to go about it."

Hoffberger said he thinks the plan being put to voters is "substantially similar" to what Ehrlich backed as governor and that a referendum may be the only way to bring slots to Maryland. O'Malley offered the referendum as a compromise, given the legislature's inability to pass a stand-alone slots bill.

"If it takes a referendum to get it done, let's get it done," Hoffberger said.

Evans was particularly incensed that the former governor's show included an interview with Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), a one-time Ehrlich nemesis who is leading the slots opposition.

"After striving for years to save the horse-racing industry, to throw in with a political opportunist like Peter Franchot is disgusting," Evans said.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  September 30, 2008; 9:36 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Slots  
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Another reason why this guy's career will be as a broadcaster and not a politician. He can't keep his mouth shut for his own good.

Posted by: A Pissed-Off Republican | September 30, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

First off, has Gerry had a meeting with the current governor? considering his previous conviction, one should ask if o'malley's ban on convicts still applies.

secondly, why weren't the horsemen crying foul when partisan politics stopped slots from moving forward for ehrlich's four years? ehrlich's right on this. make the legislators in annapolis take the hard vote during day light hours. not the midnight vote for this referendum we now have. send them back to annapolis. if they can raise our taxes, they can do a straight up or down on slots.

vote no on slots!

Posted by: Gerry Evans must be joking | September 30, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Take your own poll. Ask your neighbors in Montgomery County if they are concerned about property taxes or slots. They will certainly be much more likely to say property taxes. Vote FOR B! Make it more difficult for the county to give us a 15% to 20% property tax increase next year on top of the 14% increase it gave us this year in hard economic times. Our homes are assessed above their true value. Vote FOR B to Save Our Homes!

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | September 30, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I do not listen to Erlich's radio "show", so I am not really qualified to comment on its quality. However, if he IS being encouraged by the MD GOP (out of desperation) to dip his toe back in political water, Erlich has had his toe bitten off. I predict he keeps his face off future GOP tickets. If he is smart he will.

Posted by: Donny | October 1, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Here we go again, another anti-Ehrlich article. Why not state the real reason why anyone would be against the current slots bill backed by omalley: It will require an amendment to the Maryland Constitution. Any changes to the slots will require - you guessed it - another amendment to the Constitution. Ridiculous.

Posted by: conservative artist | October 4, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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