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The governor recently jetted off to campaign events in Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Maine. As workers at Sparrows Point started to receive layoff notifications, he campaigned in New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary in 2016.

Mr. O'Malley’s absenteeism during the 2012 legislative session is often cited as one of the reasons for its train-wreck ending.

According to one published report, Mr. O'Malley spent nearly 40 hours a month tending to Democratic Governors Association business and tasks involving national or international audiences from January through March. Ironically, one longtime O'Malley aide was quoted recently as stating that the governor took over the association chairmanship to “focus on jobs.” Maryland’s own anemic job statistics demonstrate that charity really should begin at home.

Mr. O'Malley is so aggressively in pursuit of his next job that he seems disengaged from his current one. The people who elected him - some of whom need jobs themselves - are paying the price for his ambitions.

Because of this leadership vacuum, no one in government is looking at Maryland’s economic-development liabilities and asking the tough but necessary questions.

Until state leaders in Annapolis show the same passion for growing the private sector as they do for expanding government, losing companies such as Hilton Worldwide to Virginia will be only one of many “Heartbreak Hotel” stories to come.

Larry Hogan, a former state Cabinet secretary, is chairman of Change Maryland and the founder and CEO of a group of companies headquartered in Annapolis.