Lawmaker EntrepreneursJill Hamburg Coplan
No matter how you count it, from MBA-in-Chief George W. Bush on down, the nation is being run by more business owners. In the newly installed House of Representatives, legislators with business backgrounds outnumber lawyers for the first time in a decade--159 to 158, says Erik R. Pages, policy director for the nonpartisan National Commission on Entrepreneurship. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) counts 47 current and past members in the new House, compared with just 42 in the last Congress. Seven of them are newly elected.
The 51 new lawmakers sworn into the 107th Congress also include a number of bona fide entrepreneurs, including a construction-company owner (Mike Rogers, R-Mich.); an energy consultant (Jim Matheson, D-Utah); a fireworks magnate (Felix Grucci, R-N.Y.); and a dot-com millionaire (Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.). "It's a good sign," says NFIB spokesman Ed Frank of these entrepreneur-legislators. "It translates into empathy for what small-business owners are challenged with on a day-to-day basis." Like raising money? That's a struggle politicians already know all about.