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Regional business group reverses trend, backs O'Malley

Aaron C. Davis

Endorsements in the Maryland governor's race are coming fast and furious these days, but one that came through our inbox minutes ago is worth its own mention.

The Greater Washington Board of Trade, the largest organization representing business interests in the national capitol region has endorsed Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) for reelection.

That's interesting on at least two levels: For one, the group endorsed former governor Bob Ehrlich (R) over O'Malley four years ago. In fact, in both 2002 and 2006 the board went for Ehrlich, saying he had lived up to his pledges to be pro-business.

Second reason: Until the end of 2009, John M. Kane was the board's chair. Yes, that Kane, husband of Mary Kane, Ehrlich's running mate.

In a statement, current chair Jim Dyke, a partner at McGuireWoods, said the board endorsed O'Malley "after a careful assessment of which candidate would best address the critical regional issues and the crucial role of business ... The governor has been a strong and vocal supporter of many of the Board of Trade's strategic priorities, and has proven himself to be a leader in advancing the policies that are good for Maryland, the region, and for business."

Dyke added, "Governor O'Malley has always been responsive to our input and has personally been involved in discussing these regional issues with our leadership."

Reached Thursday afternoon, O'Malley campaign spokesman Tom Russell echoed the sentiment: "The governor is no stranger to the board of trade. He's worked closely with them throughout his time as governor on their many shared priorities."

Russell also slipped in a swipe at Ehrlich's campaign theme that he could create a better business climate and bring jobs back to the state.

Members of the board "feel like they have a strong partner in Gov. O'Malley and that this is the team that will help Maryland grow and create jobs into the future."

Jim Dinegar, the board's president and CEO singled out O'Malley's "unwavering support" for the proposed Purple Line in Washington's Maryland suburbs, backing for the Silver line across the river in Virginia as well as his work to finish the intercounty connector.

Somewhat ironically, four years ago the group said it was endorsing Ehrlich "because of his pledge to build the ICC."

Ehrlich wasn't without his own business endorsement to announce Thursday. The National Federation of Independent Business, the largest small business group in Maryland, endorsed the Republican's comeback campaign.

"Bob Ehrlich has made small business growth the centerpiece of his economic plan," said Tim Goodrich, NFIB's Regional Policy Director. "He understands that 98 percent of the employers in this state are small businesses, and that the only way to boost employment is to create a more hospitable tax and regulatory environment."

In a statement, Ehrlich said he will treat small business owners as a source of new jobs - not a source of new tax revenue. I am honored to have the NFIB's endorsement and look forward to working with their members as governor."

By Aaron C. Davis  | September 30, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections  
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Next: O'Malley, Ehrlich agree to Oct. 11 debate on WJZ


The National Federation of Independent Business, which endorsed Ehrlich, NEVER endorses Democrats - it is virtually an arm of the Republican party. If it is 'news' that NFIB endorses Ehrlich, it is just as much 'news' that the sun will be coming up tomorrow morning.

Posted by: thumber77 | September 30, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

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