A claim that has been central to Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan's critique of Maryland's economy — that the state has lost most of its Fortune 500 companies during the O'Malley administration — turns out to be false.
That assertion has been a staple of Hogan's standard stump speech. Hogan repeated the claim, with minor variations, throughout the primary contest and has continued to make it a central talking point in his general election campaign against Democrat Anthony G. Brown. Frequently, he has attributed the supposed exodus to Maryland's business climate under Gov. Martin O'Malley and Brown, his lieutenant governor.
"We had 14 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Maryland, and now we have only three. In seven years they've almost all decided to leave. Only a handful of them are hanging on and they're probably thinking about leaving," he said on the Tom Marr radio show Sept. 13, 2013.
On other occasions, he has put the starting number at 13.
"Ten of the state's 13 Fortune 500 companies have already left our state to escape the O'Malley-Brown Administration's 40 straight tax hikes, job-killing regulations and a general anti-employer attitude," Hogan stated in reply to a question on The Baltimore Sun's Election Center.
A check of the Fortune 500 and 1000 lists, compiled each year by Fortune magazine based on gross revenue, shows that Hogan's assertion is incorrect.
There were only five Maryland companies on the Fortune 500 list in 2006, the last year of the Republican administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Eight years later, there are four. The only way to get close to 13 as the starting number is to use the Fortune 1000 list. Maryland had 12 companies on that list in 2006 — the same number as in 2014.
The Hogan campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The number of Fortune 500 companies in Maryland has tended to fluctuate over the years as some companies grow or shrink and some merge with other firms. The number grew in the early O'Malley years to seven in 2009, but that was partly the result of Legg Mason rising to No. 500 for one year before sliding back.
There were seven Fortune 500 firms in Maryland in 2002, the year before Ehrlich took office. One company left Maryland and another slipped to No. 502 before Ehrlich's last year, in 2006.
The Baltimore region lost its last Fortune 500 company in 2012 when Constellation was acquired by Chicago-based Exelon, but Maryland still has four Fortune 500 firms based in Montgomery County. The Baltimore region has seven companies in the Fortune 1000.