U.S. Chamber of Commerce Endorses Sen. Chafee

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce–which represents 3 million businesses nationwide–has endorsed Senator Chafee for his ’06 Senate run according to an article in today’s ProJo. This despite having differences with the Senator over various environmental , tax and labor policies. According to the story, the endorsement means the USCC will provide both money and “people on the ground” for Sen. Chafee.

Chafee said the endorsement is important “to show that not only can I win the endorsement of the environmental groups, but also the business groups. There is no more powerful business group than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”
. . . Chafee said he was not surprised to win the chamber’s endorsement, because of his ability to work across the partisan divide. “The value that they appreciate is working from the middle on some of these contentious issues and trying to get good bipartisan support,” he said.

Mayor Laffey accused Sen. Chafee of recycling an endorsement he had received last November and his campaign characterized it as support from a special-interest group. Comparing this endorsement to that given Laffey by the Club for Growth, Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report noted that, “The one difference is that the club doesn’t have much of a membership that lives and votes in Rhode Island — the chamber does.”
According to Chamber vice president and political director Bill Miller, Sen. Chafee voted the chamber’s position 82 percent of the time in 2004.

“From class action [reform] to bankruptcy to medical malpractice, transportation, trade, the CAFTA bill that was hugely important to the business community — the senator has been supportive on all of those,” Miller said. “The bottom line is we have someone who is sympathetic to the business community, and more often than not votes with us.”

However, the Journal also reports

But Chafee has opposed the chamber on a number of issues, such as the Endangered Species Act, which Chafee supports and which the chamber has criticized; a proposed federal minimum wage hike, which Chafee backs; oil drilling in the ANWAR, which he opposes; and others.

Duffy explains that because the Chamber has a position “on so many issues, few politicians will match up perfectly.” Brown’s Darrell West has his own theory as to why Chafee garnered this endorsement.

Overlooking differences with Chafee is simple political arithmetic, West said. The chamber would rather have a Republican they like 80 percent of the time than a Democrat who may oppose them more often, West said. “Chafee has a demonstrated record of electability” as a moderate Republican in a state dominated by Democrats.

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Leonard Marshall
Leonard Marshall
17 years ago

Insiders back Insiders. Period. On many, many key issues like minimum wage and taxes, Chafee is in opposition to the Chamber’s goals.
One other thing, there must be another US Chamber of Commerce because I remember Chafee getting an endorsement from them in November, he must be recycling his one “conservative” endorsement (as opposed to the Sierra Club & NARAL) before giving the bad news on Alito.
This is weak. Hey, Laffey got endorsed by the Club for Growth today!

17 years ago

Yeah, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vote positions are real conservative. That’s why Chuck Schumer (whose ACU rating is a pitiful 12) voted with the COC 65% of the time in 2004. That should put Chafee’s 82% in perspective.

17 years ago

Maybe Steve Laffey can respond by mobilizng the Providence chapter of Club for Growth to help combat the out-of-state special interests that he’s fighting?
We can’t allow left-wing, extremist RINO groups like the Chamber of Commerce to operate in Rhode Island.
Also, I think it’s time that we clean out the insider groups that have been ruining our community such as the Rotary, Lion’s Club, Shriner’s and Knight of Columbus and replace them with organizations that have actually helped Rhode Island, such as the Club for Growth.

Sol Venturi
Sol Venturi
17 years ago

I can tell by your post that you are confused and perhaps even delusional.
It isn’t special interests per se that are the problem it is special interests that use their associative power to perform acts of treason like undermining the very purpose our federal, state, and local governments exist, i.e. “by and for the people.”
Look at the implied or explicit mission or purpose of an SI. That way you won’t equate a good one with a bad one. Corporate PACs (Drugs, oil, etc.) are bad. Club for Growth is good.
Be honest with yourself. If you are loyal to a candidate that straddles the fence then you will probably end up where they will, with a fence post up your butt.
The people are not stupid. Chafee will have to come down on one side or the other on all the issues he is waffling on. When that happens both sides will vilify him for what we both know he is; a nice guy, with a decent pedigree, who has no business being a US Senator.

caswell cooke, Jr
17 years ago

93% of Chamber endorsed candidates in the 2004 cycle were elected and in those instances when chamber candidates have gone toe-to-toe with club candidates, the chamber has prevailed.

17 years ago

I’d be willing to bet that a lot more than 93% of the candidates that the USCOC backed were incumbents. No one is surprised that they backed an incumbent for reelection. That doesn’t mean they actually think he’s doing a good job. Simply put, they are pragmatic.
The Chamber of Commerce is not a conservative organization, nor is it monolithic. While one shouldn’t underestimate their influence, one should be careful not to overly inflate it either.
PS I’m sure Senator Laffey will not hold this year’s endorsement of Chafee against them, when he’s running for reelection in 2012! 😉

17 years ago

You really have shown yourself to be a Laffey schill and not a conservative. The “corporate PAC’s are bad and Club for Growth is good”???
The First Amendment protects participation in political activities as free speech, to include the contribtution of campaign funds in support of one’s favored candidate.
The left-wing has for years been losing the fundraising battle and tried to change the ground rules under the guise of campaign finance reform. They were even able to attain partial victory under McCain-Feingold.
So tell me, why does Laffey think an employer like a drug company that creates jobs for thousands of people and helps develop cures for dieases be restricted from supporting candidates? How can you suggest that it is wrong for them to have a voice in the political process??!?!
I know Laffey is trying to position himself as an “outside” crusader and that many of the big, bad corporate interests are supporting Laffey. But in his quest to relate to the common man, it would be nice if he didn’t ignore the First Amendment.

17 years ago

I should have said “big, bad corporate interests are not supporting Laffey”….but you get what I mean
Will, Chafee’s voting record on Chamber issues is actually fairly good, above 80%. While some groups may be supporting Chafee for pragmatic reasons, I think the Chamber thinks he’s doing a good job representing them on their issues. It’s largely the social issues where Chafee fails conservatives, not the fiscal issues.

Fred Sanford
Fred Sanford
17 years ago

I agree that Chafee is a bigger disappointment on social issues than fiscal issues for conservatives. But, he has failed conservatives on fiscal issues as well. He wants to eliminate the Bush tax cuts, opposes cutting 40 billion in spending over 5 years to reduce the deficit, and supports pork spending. We all know that the Chamber supports incumbants regardless of party aslong as they vote with them a few times like on free trade. They deliver money, not votes.
The average RI small business does not pay corporate income taxes, but instead pays personal income taxes. The average RI small business guy does not want the Bush tax cuts eliminated. They are not voting for Chafee so he can raise their taxes. A small business guy in the junk businss like me certainly does not want his personal income taxes going up.

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