Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday said his business recruiting foray into Maryland is nothing more than some healthy competition.
The Republican governor spoke for about 15 minutes after a lunch reception with Maryland Republican officials and some business representatives at Morton’s The Steakhouse in the Hyatt Regency Bethesda.
Perry, who will square off against Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on CNN’S Crossfire later today, said the reception was a chance to “have a good conversation” with businesses about red state vs. blue state policies.
“If you want to live in a state where you have high taxes and a relatively burdensome regulatory climate, if you want to live in a state where the litigation is relatively easy to get into, then go live in those states,” Perry said. “But if you want to be free, if you want to live free, free from overtaxation and over litigation, free from overregulation, in a place that’s got a great, skilled workforce, move to Texas.”
In a series of local TV and radio ads, Perry claimed O’Malley approved 40 new taxes and fees since he took office in 2006. That prompted a sharp response last week from O’Malley and an op-ed in today’s Washington Post in which he criticized Perry’s “slash-and-burn” economic and social policies.
“The great thing about the founding father’s concept of the 10th Amendment and this 50 now laboratories of innovation, is you get to go where you feel comfortable,” Perry said. “And that’s really what this discussion is about.”
StartUp Maryland, which had a previously scheduled business pitch event at business incubator and green nonprofit Bethesda Green, took its Maryland-flag adorned “Pitch Across Maryland Bus” to the hotel to heckle Perry during “his Maryland-bashing tour.”
There was no heckling, but co-organizer Mike Binko invited Perry on to the bus to make his pitch for why a Maryland business should move to the Lone Star state.
“Taxes are what they are. I hear that as well. We do what we can to ensure that the companies become successful here,” said Dave Feldman, executive director of Bethesda Green. “There are also other things in Montgomery County that are unique. Our education base is quite significant. Bethesda has the highest number of Ph.Ds than any other place in the country. So we play on the strengths.”
Perry, who has worked with a Texas business group called Texas One to air the ads, has targeted businesses in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri and New York. Perry said Texas targets businesses in red states too.
“I’m sure Coach [Randy] Edsall has some players from outside of Maryland,” Perry said, referring to the University of Maryland football coach. “I’d bet he has some from Texas, too.”
It was a tougher message to push for Maryland Republican officials, who have criticized the state’s business climate but for obvious reasons don’t want businesses leaving.
“We thank Gov. Perry for highlighting just how dire things have got in Maryland,” Maryland Republican Party Chairman Diana Waterman said.