If you run a business in the Valley area – or if you’re sympathetic to the plight of business in California – your choice for state senator in the upcoming election is an easy one: It’s Steve Fazio.

In fact, you can quickly determine which candidates favor the private sector just by listening to them or reading their campaign messages.

Fazio is unafraid to place business front and center. He introduces himself as the pro-business candidate in the race, and his campaign material prominently mentions his long tenure running a small family business.

In fact, his introductory letter on his campaign website immediately makes the pitch for creating a business-friendly environment. He points out that a stronger economy would give the government money to enhance public safety and fund public education.

This is the third paragraph of that letter:

“It is our elected leaders who are responsible for shaping common-sense policies that create an environment where our economy can grow, our children can learn, and our residents can feel safe in their homes, yet California’s leaders have failed to build a system for success.”

Contrast that with Fazio’s opponent, Henry Stern, an environmental lawyer, whose campaign focuses heavily on the environment. To his credit, his campaign does address the need for a thriving local economy. But he offers few specifics, other than the desire to create clean energy programs and clean tech jobs, which is fine but would contribute a teeny amount to an economy as diverse as ours.

Stern has been a senior advisor to the termed-out senator, Fran Pavley. Stern links his campaign closely to Pavley, implying his tenure would be similar to hers. So how is Pavley’s record when it comes to business? Not good. The California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business last week unveiled its annual ranking of state senators and assembly members in terms of their voting record for small businesses. Pavley came in at the bottom, getting a “Failing Small Business” rating.

Fazio, by contrast, is a small business operator. He emphasizes the fact that he has been involved in a family dry cleaning business, Fazio Cleaners, since 1978. He has expanded the operation to nine locations.

“I understand what it’s like to run a business in California,” Fazio told me, adding that it’s challenging because of the public sector. “We are bombarded with regulations and new labor-centric laws.

“Those who are legislating, never having been in business, have no idea of the abuses taking place,” he added. Among his complaints: the lack of tort reform, workers’ compensation lawsuits and the much higher minimum wage mandate.

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