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.
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.”
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.
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.