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There's a restaurateur or two, a jeweler, and a handful of accountants and attorneys with employees on their payrolls. But those lawmakers are vastly outnumbered by corporate Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chrono BT-179, government employees and those who have made a career of politics. One-fifth of the lawmakers count their elected office as their full-time job.

Yet small-business issues are in the election spotlight this year -- pushed there by a slow national economic recovery and the state's business climate. Last year, nearly 3,000 more businesses closed than opened, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Ellen Valentino, Maryland Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chrono BT-214 of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the topic was getting "unprecedented attention" from Democratic and Republican candidates. The legislature now includes just seven of her members, and six more have decided to run, she said.

"Government intrusion on a national and state level have prompted small-business owners to say, 'I need to get to Annapolis. I'm prepared to come to the table,' " Valentino said.

Candidates are trumpeting Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chrono BT-217 business experience. Smith Island baking company owner Brian Murphy, Ehrlich's opponent in the Republican primary, said primaries in California and Virginia showed that voters are choosing "businesspeople, not politicians."

Gov. Martin O'Malley weighed in recently, signing an executive order to form a commission to study small business, though his campaign said he has been addressing Breitling Navitimer Quartz Chrono BT-218 needs throughout his administration. Ehrlich has criss-crossed the state collecting ideas from small-business owners. Both are lawyers who have had long careers as elected officials.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat representing Calvert and Prince George's counties, largely agreed with Ehrlich that the legislature needs more members with small-business experience. Miller has a law firm in Clinton.

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