4:08 PM EDT, October 23, 2012
Amid a $50 million media blitz to convince Marylanders to vote for or against a proposed gambling expansion, something unprecedented happened this week: One of the Question 7 TV ads was actually amusing.
Gone were the stock scary music and grainy images. There were no teachers averring that they would either be helped or hurt by a sixth casino and table games. No images of articles ripped out of newspapers to back up one side or the other. The ad was nothing more than Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake standing in front of man so comically large that she doesn't come up farther than his elbow.
That man is former Ravens offensive tackle and likely future Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden (6'9", 345 lbs.). The mayor says some of the things the owner of a West Virginia casino has said in its campaign of opposition to Question 7 upset her, and they upset Mr. Ogden, too. The camera pans up. He frowns. "You don't want to make Jonathan Ogden mad," the mayor says. The camera pans. "No you don't," Mr. Ogden says.
One could quibble with some of the content of what Ms. Rawlings-Blake says during the 30-second spot, but amid an avalanche of bland, generic ads cascading down from the national campaign consultants working on this referendum, it stands out. It's funny.
But what's hilarious is what happened next. The anti-Question 7 campaign, which is financed by Penn National Gaming, the owner of West Virginia's Hollywood Casino, sent out an email seeking to discredit the ad by pointing out that Mr. Ogden owns a home in Las Vegas and questioning his Baltimore bona fides.
Then the pro-Question 7 campaign sent a response complaining that Penn National's press release "crosses the line" and betrays its insensitivity to all things Maryland. The pro-Question 7 campaign is, of course, mostly financed by another out-of-state casino company, MGM.
What conclusion are Marylanders to draw from all of this? The people trying to sway their votes have a lot more money than sense.
--Andrew A. Green