The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is apparently not satisfied with the Republican Party's electoral efforts. Per the Wall Street Journal: "The Chamber says it has raised enough money this year from corporations to spend about $35 million on the election, double its budget for House and Senate races in the 2006 election. The group is supporting pro-business candidates, almost exclusively Republicans in contested Senate races."
Already, the Journal reports (citing the Federal Election Commission), the Chamber has spent about $10.4 million on Senate races since just the end of August. A third of that -- $3.3 million -- went to embattled John Sununu in New Hampshire, but the organization has also spent $1.5 million to support Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, and $1.4 million to defeat Democrat Mark Udall in Colorado. So far, the Chamber has only spent $200k on the Minnesota Senate race, but is "readying a $1 million media campaign to slam Democratic candidate Al Franken" and pick up where the National Federation of Independent Business left off.
The Chamber's $10 millions compares to $17 million spent by the Republican Party itself on independent expenditures, and the combined sum is just $2 million more than the Democratic Senate campaign committee has spent. Meanwhile, unions and their affiliates have independently poured $6 million into the Senate races since Labor day, and given about $52 million directly to Democratic candidates -- and $5 million to Republicans candidates. (In contrast to the Chamber, American businesses through September split their direct contributions pretty much down the middle -- about $130 million went to candidates of each party.)
The Journal, for its part, is pleased. It's about time, says Kimberly Strassel in a separate commentary. "Over this decade many businesses have inched back from in-your-face politics. They felt comfortable with Republicans in charge. They felt comfortable with Democrats running Congress, since divided government rarely brings change. They felt comfortable not offending either political party, and not inviting attack by liberal activists.
"They do not feel comfortable now," she writes. With the Democrat's "pure antimarket agenda" looming on the horizon, "the fights coming will demand that business take sides."