If you want to beat them, join them.
That's the strategy House Minority Leader John A. Cade, R-Severna Park, hoped to use to defeat a bill that would legalize slot machines for non-profit clubs in Harford County.
When the bill came up for a vote on the Senate floor yesterday morning, Cade offered an amendment that would have legalized slots in Anne Arundel County as well.
"It follows the old adage, that if youput enough wet wash on the line, the line will fall," Cade said later. "It's also called loving a bill to death."
But Cade's plan ran into a roadblock -- namely, the Anne Arundel Senate delegation.
After the floor debate, the county's five senators voted, 3-2, against the amendment in a brief but fiery delegation meeting in the Senate lounge. As a result, the amendment will be withdrawn.
"You know godd--- good and well that I'm not going to try and bring slots back in Anne Arundel County," Cade told the others. He said he just wanted to"slow the bill down" until Sen. Thomas Bromwell, D-Baltimore County,could offer an amendment today adding Baltimore County in another effort to kill the bill.
Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Annapolis, said he would support Cade's amendment "if it killed the bill."
Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, who is chairman of the delegation, said he asked for the vote because he feared the public would take theamendment at face value.
"The public perception would be that we were trying to legalize slots in Anne Arundel County," said Jimeno, whose 1985 vote to legalize slot machines on the Eastern Shore was used against him in last fall's campaign.
"I couldn't associate myself with that," he said.
"I'm not for killing bills that way," said Sen. Michael Wagner, D-Ferndale. "You kill bills by voting against them."
Wagner said he believes the billis a Harford County issue andthat he would vote for the bill as a courtesy to the Harford County senators.
But, Winegrad and Cade said the bill would set state policy on slot machine gambling.
"If Harford County wants to legalizeprostitution, are we supposed to vote for that, too?" Winegrad said.
The bill would list Harford County with eight Eastern Shore counties whose bona fide fraternal, religious and veterans' organizations can operate slot machines.
The proceeds must benefit local charities and must be regularly reported to the state.
A group of Harford County tavern and restaurant owners testified against the bill, though it had the support of the Harford Chamber of Commerce.
Cade fought vociferously against several initiatives in the mid-1970s to legalize slot machines in Anne Arundel County. His opposition pitted him against Jimeno's District 31 predecessor, Jerome F. Connell.