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Entrepreneurship as a Campaign Issue

Cameron Cushman

As the United States gears up for the mid-term elections in November, it appears that entrepreneurship may be emerging as a campaign issue that candidates are embracing as a way to create jobs and bring America out of the Great Recession.

But before I tackle that issue, let’s do a quick recap of some of the recent developments surrounding a few entrepreneurs that are currently running for office. In my previous posts Entrepreneurs as Senate Candidates and Running to Save California, I highlighted a few entrepreneurs with political aspirations. In the California primaries on June 8, both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman won decisive victories. Fiorina has now earned the right to face the state’s long-time junior Senator, Barbara Boxer in November. Whitman defeated fellow entrepreneur Steve Poisner and will run against former Governor Jerry Brown.

Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), now has a clear path to primary victory after her opponent unofficially suspended his campaign in May. She is still expected to face Connecticut Attorney General Robert Blumenthal in November to replace the retiring Chris Dodd.

In one of the races for the House of Representatives, entrepreneur Keith Fimian won the right to repeat his 2008 challenge of Gerald Connolly, the incumbent in Virginia’s 11th district (in the suburbs surrounding Washington, DC). Fimian is the founder of U.S. Inspect, a commercial and residential property inspection company that is now the largest in the United States. One of his key ideas seeks to encourage entrepreneurship by eliminating the capital gains tax.

Though it would be unfair to assert that any of these candidates are making entrepreneurship a central issue in their campaigns, it is clear that issues surrounding startups are being raised in this election cycle. Each of these candidates, in their own way, is talking about entrepreneurship as the single most effective way to create jobs.

In Maryland, former Governor Robert Ehrlich, who is seeking this post again, took this approach one step further. He recently announced “The Entrepreneur Agenda.” Ehrlich wants to make Maryland the startup capital of the United States by cutting bureaucratic red tape and by lowering taxes that inhibit the creation of high-growth firms. He is also advocating a Small Business Bill of Rights that “guarantees small business owners a fair, timely and predictable business environment so they can expand and create jobs.”  

Judging by the extent and detail of the plan, it certainly seems as though Ehrlich is going to make helping entrepreneurs a major focus of his campaign. It will be interesting to see if, between now and the elections in November, Ehrlich and others will bring the concerns of America’s true job creators to the forefront of our public consciousness.

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