Supporters, too, are poised to put boots on the ground in the county. MGM Resorts is opening a "visitors center" at the National Harbor development to build enthusiasm for the "resort casino" it wants to build there. And labor groups, looking for new jobs and already fired up from the special-session fight, are readying their members.
"We have to get a majority in Prince George's or this thing is dead," said Mark Coles, a spokesman for the Washington Building Trades Council. "This is huge for us. A lot of our folks are out of work, and this is an opportunity."
Most of his 25,000 members live in Prince George's County, and his union spent $2.7 million trying to influence lawmakers during the four-day special session in August. Right now, Coles is reaching out to make sure his members are all registered to vote.
Coles played down opposition from Prince George's mega-churches. "The pastors have to say they are opposed to gambling," he said. "Their congregations are the ones that are on the buses to West Virginia to play slots."
Some Prince George's pastors see the casino legislation as part of a larger problem: Local politicians seem to care less about their opinions.
"We feel as if we've been ignored," said Weaver. "There is a groundswell of anger toward elected officials."
Fifteen of the 23 members of the Prince George's County House delegation supported the bill; in the Senate, six of eight members voted for it.
Weaver said he may look to his congregation to recruit candidates to challenge some incumbent Democratic lawmakers who voted for gambling. "Emotions are running high," he said. "It is time for us to develop our own election strategy."
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