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