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On the campaign circuit, Mr. Ehrlich has hammered the governor as a free-spending, anti-business Democrat - citing in particular the recent decision of California defense giant Northrop Grumman to relocate its corporate headquarters to Virginia instead of Maryland.

“We have earned, unfortunately, a ‘hostile-to-business’ reputation,” he told a group of economic leaders in Ocean City on Monday. “The view in Annapolis is, we can be as anti-business as we want to be. And if you’re a small business? ‘Screw you, you can go to Virginia.’

“That’s the attitude I face every day,” said the former governor, according to one local report.

In his advertisements and on the stump, Mr. O'Malley relentlessly questions his opponent’s claims of fiscal responsibility.

The governor, who was also in Ocean City on Monday, said at a firefighters convention, “There are some who run for public office to take Maryland back. We’re running for re-election to move Maryland forward.”

In addition to firing back at Mr. Ehrlich, the governor has made his administration’s four-year moratorium on tuition increases at state schools a focal point of his re-election pitch.

Mr. Ehrlich has said the freeze on tuition increases is hurting growing community colleges.

Mr. O'Malley has encouraging statistics on crime in the state (down during his tenure) and public schools (ranked among the nation’s best on his watch) to use in his campaign.

But on economic issues - where Mr. Ehrlich is hitting his successor on the campaign trail - the governor seems to be fighting an ongoing stream of bad news: from the Northrop Grumman loss to the closing of the Solo Cup plant in Owings Mills (540 jobs lost) to the high-profile closing of the ESPN Zone restaurant in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (140 jobs).