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So How Did They Do?

Cameron Cushman

Last spring I profiled several entrepreneurs (here and here) who were running for office. So now that the midterm elections are behind us and all the races have been decided, how did our entrepreneurs do?

The quick answer is—not so well. Of the three candidates I discussed; Carly Fiorina who ran for Senate in California, Linda McMahon, the Senate candidate in Connecticut and Meg Whitman who ran for Governor in California, they all lost their races. In Virginia, entrepreneur Steve Fimian lost again to incumbent Gerald Connolly in a closely contested fight.

Voters in California sent a clear signal that they did not want entrepreneurs representing them and that they instead wanted more of the same. Fiorina was defeated by third term incumbent Barbara Boxer and Whitman lost to former Governor Jerry Brown.

But entrepreneurs should not despair that they lack representation in Washington. As a result of the historic election of 2012, there will be 94 new Congressmen and women in the U.S. House. This unprecedented change will sweep in several entrepreneurs on January 3, when the 112th Congress is sworn in. I’ve profiled a few of these entrepreneurs below:

New Members with Entrepreneurial and Small Business Experience

  • Ben Quayle (R-AZ)
    Son of former vice president Dan Quayle, he started Tynwald Capital, specializing in the acquisition and growth of small businesses. Additionally, he was one of the founders of APG-Southwest, a security service provider. Quayle had not been involved with politics prior to the 2010 election.
  • Steve Southerland (R-FL)
    Southerland is the owner and President of the Southerland Family Funeral Homes and is a founding partner in two other businesses. He as described himself as a small business advocate and is anti-health care registration. He had never held office before the congressional run.
  • Bobby Schilling (R-IL)
    Schilling started Saint Giuseppe’s Heavenly Pizza restaurant in East Moline, IL, in 1997. He also has experience as a union worker in the container and paper industries as well as insurance and finance. He is a Tea Party candidate concerned with fiscal responsibility.
  • Richard Hanna (R-NY)
    Hanna started a construction business focused on small residences that he grew into a multimillion dollar company that now employs more than 400 people.
  • Jim Renacci (R-OH)
    Renacci formed LTC management Services, a company that owns, operates and manages a group of nursing home facilities in Ohio. He has also owned Harley-Davidson dealerships and a now defunct arena league football team, the Columbus Destroyers. He is a former councilman and mayor of Wadsworth, Ohio.
  • Jeff Landry (R-LA)
    Landry co-founded an oil and gas services business in southern Louisiana. His father and in-laws are also small business owners. Landry is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and spent eleven years in the Louisiana National Guard.
  • Scott Rigell (R-VA)
    Rigell is the founder and president of Freedom Automotive, a series of car dealerships in northeastern Virginia. He served for six years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

In the Senate, entrepreneur Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, defeated long-time Senator Russ Feingold. Johnson is the founder and CEO of PACUR, a company specializing in plastics used in medical device packaging and high tech printing applications. For most of PACUR’s first year in operation, Johnson was the accountant and a machine operator, trading twelve hours shifts with his brother-in-law. Johnson helped grow the company into a multimillion dollar company that exports its products worldwide.

Let’s hope that these entrepreneurs can help change the tone in Washington and help entrepreneurs continue to do what they do best – innovate, grow their companies and create jobs.

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