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Ehrlich touts pro-business record

September 16, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Gov. Robert Ehrlich was among friends and in full campaign mode Friday during a luncheon sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce at Fountain Head Country Club.

For the most part, Ehrlich was careful not to mention Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, his Democratic rival, by name. But he insisted that for the state's business community, "this is an incredibly important election cycle."

"For the first time in my lifetime, we have the power in Annapolis, Md., to empower entrepreneurs," Ehrlich said.

But only if the business community flexes its political muscle in the upcoming general election.

"The stakes are really high with only 50 days left - and I'm not even talking about my race," Ehrlich said. "If I don't win, all this is moot."

Ehrlich told the group that laws passed by the General Assembly had given Maryland an anti-business image, and that there are not enough pro-business lawmakers in the legislature to undo the damage.

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"The business community has taken hit after hit," he said. "That era is over in Maryland this cycle."

That, of course, depends on how the legislative races across the state turn out. Ehrlich, Maryland's first Republican governor in a generation, has watched the Democratic majority in the legislature consistently override vetoes of what he thought was anti-business legislation. Following the 2005 General Assembly, he dared the business community to "get dangerous" and put its influence to work.

On Friday, his message was much the same.

"I don't care what party (the lawmakers) are," Ehrlich said. "If they haven't supported you, don't support them."

Concerning an issue that has lost Ehrlich some support locally, he told The Herald-Mail that his administration plans to put more resources into gang intervention in the state's prisons to help ease violence. But he said he plans no further personnel changes in the administration of the Division of Correction.

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