One of the most traditional establishment Republican organizations in the country, the Chamber of Commerce, is set to endorse nearly two dozen freshman Democrats for re-election—and members and donors are angry.
The Chamber has donated nearly $100 million to Republican candidates over the last decade and has endorsed some Democrats in the past. But the controversy over these endorsements threatens the Republican Party at a crucial time. Several other high-profile GOP-leaning groups — the NRA and Koch brothers network — have reduced their donations this year for a variety of reasons and some vulnerable Republican candidates are already hurting for cash. The Chamber’s plan will certainly have an effect on some GOP-targeted races where vulnerable Democrats are running.
There is particular concern the Democrats in question do not have the pro-business record an endorsement would convey. State Chamber of Oklahoma President Chad Warmington wrote a letter Tuesday to national Chamber leaders fervently opposing the proposal to back Rep. Kendra Horn, perhaps the most vulnerable House Democrat in the country.
Citing the Oklahoma congresswoman’s voting record on energy issues, Warmington wrote, “I question how the U.S. Chamber could endorse a candidate who consistently voted against the largest industry in Oklahoma, employing over 90,000 workers throughout the state. That is hardly a pro-business record. I am also concerned the U.S. Chamber would endorse a congresswoman that voted in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats who are not pro-business nearly 90 percent of the time.”
The wind is changing direction in Washington and most pro-business groups are hedging their bets as Democrats look more and more likely to keep control of the House and take over the Senate.
And the Chamber is decidedly lukewarm about the current occupant of the White House. The group has actively opposed Donald Trump’s immigration policies and don’t care much for his tariffs either.
But this isn’t about immigration or tariffs. This is about shifting allegiances during a political campaign that will determine what kind of United States emerges from the election.
Apparently, the Chamber leadership is willing to live with much of the anti-business agenda of the Democrats.
As national Chamber leaders express a willingness to help reelect House Democrats, rank-and-file members of the organization are arguing the Democrats have taken positions that are anathema to corporations. Several of the Democratic lawmakers the Chamber is planning to endorse support a $15 minimum wage, a policy that many in the business world fiercely oppose.
The internal fight is just the latest headache for the Chamber, which for decades was regarded as a giant in the lobbying world. The group has recently generated headlines for its frosty relationship with the White House and alleged lavish spending on private jets.
Does the Chamber really believe they can placate the fanatics in the Democratic Party by backing a few milquetoast liberals in Congress? I doubt whether Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or the gimlet-eyed radicals in the Senate care who they give their money to. They want their knee on the Chamber members’ necks and a hand in their pockets reaching for their wallets. They will pay their “fair share” of taxes and implement the Democrats’ radical workplace agenda and keep their mouths shut.
Oh, and thanks for the donation.