Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. won the backing Thursday of the National Federation of Independent Business, a nonprofit, small-business advocacy group.
The announcement doesn’t have the cachet of dueling New York mayoral endorsements and won’t get as much buzz as President Obama doing a radio ad for Gov. Martin O’Malley. But, in a race where both men are touting their business bona fides, it does mean something.
The fact that the NFIB is the voice of small business in Annapolis certainly gives Ehrlich another tool to use as he and O’Malley struggle over who has been, and will be, better for small businesses in the state.
“After four years of downturn and stagnation, we must create a business climate that allows entrepreneurs to create jobs for families and improve our overall quality of life.” Ehrlich said in a statement announcing the endorsement. “As governor, I will treat small-business owners as a source of new jobs –- not a source of new tax revenue.”
Tim Goodrich, NFIB’s regional policy director, touched on many key points in Ehrlich’s platform in explaining the endorsement.
“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,” Goodrich said.
Ehrlich’s announcement comes a week after O’Malley announced his own business backers — a list of 200 Maryland executives that support the Democrat in his re-election bid.
The NFIB often finds its positions aligned with those of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and other business advocacy groups, such as those representing retailers and restaurateurs. But it has broken with these groups in the past.
The first example that comes to mind for me is the unemployment insurance bill that was debated, declared dead, resuscitated, debated some more, overhauled and finally passed in the spring. Most business groups opposed unemployment insurance tax breaks in 2010, citing their fear of the long-term damage they would do to the UI system. The NFIB, however, quietly supported the tax break provision because of the immediate relief its members wanted.