Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake brings on the muscle in a just-released ad warning voters that casino owners in West Virginia are behind the opposition to the proposed gambling expansion plan on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In the ad, the former Ravens star Jonathan Ogden looms over the mayor like a mammoth bodyguard as Rawlings-Blake delivers her pitch in favor of Question 7, which among other things would allow table games at the planned Harrah's casino in Baltimore.
Rawlings-Blake becomes the latest elected official to join in the ad campaign for gambling expansion. The campaign is largely financed by MGM Resorts International, which wants to build a casino at National Harbor if the referendum passes, and by Caesars Entertainment, the largest partner in the Baltimore casino.
While Gov. Martin O'Malley, Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett have all appeared in pro-Question 7 ads, none has had a co-star like Ogden, a former All-Pro offensive lineman.
In the 30-second spot, Rawlings-Blake says the West Virginia casino owners are spending millions of dollars to defeat Question 7.
"That upsets me, and that upsets Jonathan Ogden," she says. "And you don't want to upset Jonathan Ogden."
"No, you don't," Ogden intones, struggling to appear fierce but actually coming across as a rather sweet guy.
Rawlings-Blake's charge is a reference to Penn National Gaming, owner of a large casino in Charles Town, W. Va., that could lose much of its business to a casino at National Harbor. Penn National has spent more than $25 million on ads opposing Maryland's gambling expansion plan. The mayor's take: Question 7 would bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to Maryland but "these West Virginia casinos want to keep it all for themselves."
Her kicker: "West Virginia, don't make me send Jonathan Ogden over there."
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