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The Sound and Fury of Political Endorsements Rock Amash’s World

The fact that the business establishment says it has more faith in the challenger is a wake-up call for the incumbent. (For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

Rod Kackley


June 23, 2014 - 12:23 am
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It is easy to confuse the incumbent with the insurgent in Michigan 3rd Congressional District race.

Brian Ellis, challenging two-term GOP incumbent Justin Amash, has picked up endorsements from three business organizations that backed Amash in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

The rumored revolt of the West Michigan business community against the congressman they had backed in two previous elections became fact in the ides of June.

The Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and even Amash’s hometown Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce PAC came out in favor of Ellis in mid-June.

However, beyond being a wake-up call for the incumbent — and a source of new campaign financing — perhaps political endorsements are not much more than the sound and fury that should be expected from the foundations of the political establishment.

And if the politician is an anti-establishment candidate, even if that politician would seem to be a two-term member of the establishment, perhaps those endorsements can be spun in the politician’s favor.

But still, for those at the eye of this Republican hurricane, the fact that the business establishment says it has more faith in the challenger than the incumbent is news.

“Brian is a business leader who will advance solutions to grow our economy, encourage job creation, and create more opportunities for job providers in West Michigan and across the state to succeed,” said the president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Chamber, Rich Studley.

“Brian Ellis understands that balanced budgets, free-market healthcare solutions, and improving the tax climate will encourage job creation and business growth in Michigan,” said the chair of the Michigan Chamber Board of Directors and president & CEO of King Lake Wilderness, LLC, in Covington, Michigan, Scott L. Holman.

Rick Baker, the president and chief executive officer of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, made a similar statement in the announcement of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce PAC’s support of Ellis over Amash.

“In the race for the 3rd Congressional District, the PAC believed the best choice to represent the West Michigan business community and provide leadership in Washington was Brian Ellis,” said Baker in their endorsement press release.

“It is clear that Washington is at a crossroads and we need leaders to make the tough decisions to ensure our future is better than our past. Brian is committed to implementing policies that will create economic opportunity and eliminate hurdles to job growth,” said Baker.

The Michigan Farm Bureau’s political action committee known as AgriPac, another organization that had supported Amash in the past two elections, completed the three-day trifecta of endorsements for Ellis by declaring him a “Friend of Agriculture.”

It isn’t every political day that three large business organizations line up against a congressional incumbent. However, Tim Detwiler, Ph.D., a Cornerstone University professor of communication arts in Grand Rapids, said that while endorsements are important, they are often the sound and fury of a political race that don’t signify much in the end.

“They are the formal opinion leaders, the longstanding political players. But I am of the opinion that it still comes down to the individual voter making the choice,” said Detwiler.

“I don’t think the endorsements are going to be the magic that wins it for Brian Ellis.”

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Oh boy, those polls: didn't Cantor have more than 30 points lead over Brat?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Its the reverse of Cantor v. Brat. Here, the GOP establishment is trying to primary a GOP incumbent because they would rather have a Democrat who will cooperate with corporate welfare schemes than a tea party republican who actually represents the people's interests. The other interesting GOP primary race is McDaniels v. Cochran for the U.S. Senate. The GOP establishment is actually campaigning for Democrats to cross party lines and vote in the GOP primary to keep the incumbent in office.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
You mean the "GOP mainstream" that outspent all prior congresses when they were in control and cooperated with the democrats to support the federal takeover of education and healthcare and promotes illegal immigration and other government lawlessness. I would certainly hope he is outside the GOP mainstream.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Republican political establishment, and their supporters in big business, could care less about putting Americans to work. All they care about is cheap labor from abroad. I guarantee that corporate savings in labor, will not be passed along in lower prices for services and goods. It will be added to the corporations' profit margins, and ever larger bonuses, and stock options, for corporate executives. Vote TEA !
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't think it is that simple. In a free market, excessive profits in any one field of endeavor will always attract competition willing to compete on price - so long as they can still make a reasonable return on invested capital. Whenever you see a corporation making gobs and gobs of money, it is because they have a monopoly (or oligopoly) of sorts in their market or because they are riding high on some temporary advantage that will take a little time for competition to erode.

This mechanism of course is stunted when the government provides advantages to established companies in the form of extreme rules and regulations that make entry and execution by would-be competitors much too expensive or when they pick and choose winners and losers for their own political gain.

As for cheap imported labor, this is where free market advocates get some heartburn. For businesses that primarily serve local or domestic markets without foreign competition, all it does is lower prices to the consumer while displacing the existing work force - a net neutral situation for the hiring companies but a very bad trade off for the lower and middle class workers who lose their jobs.

For companies who make goods for export or who compete with imported foreign products, arguably such imported cheap labor may be a key to survival and retention of at least some of the jobs held by local citizens.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Amash posts EVERY vote he casts, AND he explains what the bill says and why he votes as he does, on Facebook.
How many other politicians are so responsive to their constituents? I hope Mr. Amash wins. Again. He is one of the VERY few honest men in Congress.
When voting, one shouldn't simply vote out an incumbent. One should peruse the actual records of the people running.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
In today's world, the organizations cited, Chamber of Commerce and a Farm Subsidy Demanding Group, sound like the Establishment. I think the author did a very poor job of describing the situation. I think this is very different from the Cantor race. I am pretty sure Cantor had the Chamber of Commerce behind him. As a matter of fact, I think it is pretty accurate to say this is the opposite of the Cantor situation. Amash, should however, agree to a debate. Not doing so looks cowardly.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's a glaring omission here. Amash is a 2 term tea party representative being challenged by an Establishment pick. A 2 term representative does not reflect "anti-incumbent" sentiment but something else entirely. Establishment Republicans think mushy Michigan is easy pickings and labeling Amash an "extremist" seems to be their tired strategy. We'll see.

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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