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O’Malley wins backing of 200 Md. biz leaders

Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Thursday he has the backing of 200 business leaders “from every corner of the state.”

The move hews closely with the the character of the governor’s race so far, and could bolster O’Malley’s street cred among business types after he lost some of his ammunition this week.

The race has been all about business and jobs, with both Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. jockeying to appear the best suited to kick the economy back into gear and get Marylanders back to work.

“We’re thrilled with the tremendous support we’re receiving from the Maryland business community. Job creators are backing our campaign because they know we are making the tough choices to invest in the future and position our state for future economic success,” O’Malley said in a written statement.

Ehrlich and his camp have criticized O’Malley’s record on tax increases and the job losses and economic turmoil that marked the Democrat’s time in the governor’s mansion. O’Malley was able to tout five straight months of job gains through much of the summer and into the start of the campaign season. But figures released by the state Tuesday showed Maryland lost jobs in August, and revised July figures showed losses then, too.

So, O’Malley’s five months of gains became four months of gains, followed by two months of losses. The Sun had a good story Thursday on what the change in Maryland’s job picture means for the campaigns.

O’Malley’s list does indeed present a diverse picture of supporters. They include top executives at some big Maryland names, like Mark Fetting of Legg Mason, Ed Hale of First Mariner Bank and Bill Roberts of Verizon Maryland. Other notable names include developers Patrick Turner and Thibault Manekin, as well as Pless Jones Sr., president of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association.

There are also plenty on the list who have worked closely with the governor, and have benefited from dealings with the state in his term. Christopher Lee is the chairman and CEO of Ports America Chesapeake, the company that leased the Seagirt Marine Terminal from the state in January. Norman R. Augustine, the former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., was a key part of the state’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to woo Northrop Grumman Corp. And Jay Davidson is heading the Baltimore Grand Prix effort, of which O’Malley has been an outspoken supporter.