September 14, 2004

No Unimportant Races

Howard Dean has been banging on the idea that there are no unimportant races for a while now. But apparently it hadn't stuck with me quite as well as I thought it might have.

A massive ad campaign was recently launched here in Washington State against Deborah Senn, former Insurance Commissioner, now running for Attorney General in a contested primary. And my reaction to it was pretty much to yawn because I figured that a) there were more important things to worry about, and b) maybe her Democratic opponent Mark Sidran really is just a tad more electable anyway. The jury is still out on b). I lean towards Senn ideologically, but though I bear no love at all for the insurance industry, it isn't generally a good idea to have ticked them off quite as much as Senn did. They are, you know, loaded and well-connected both.

Regarding a), however, recent disclosures indicate that the ad buy was just a prelude to what are probably grander projects in the works. The Senn campaign got the group running the ads (the ironically named Voters Education Committee) to disclose their donor list, except that there was really only a single donor, according to the Seattle P-I.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $1.5 million to thwart Deborah Senn's bid for state attorney general because of an "anti-business" agenda revealed during her tenure as insurance commissioner, the group's lawyer said yesterday.

...The chamber's Web site makes the organization's intent clear.

"While the anti-business forces are raising vast sums of money to fund opponents of business, we're waging our biggest Get-Out-The-Vote campaign ever -- to ensure victory for pro-business candidates. Last we checked, votes win elections, not dollars," the site says.

Documents filed with the Public Disclosure Commission yesterday show the group spent $1.4 million of the $1.5 million it donated to the Voters Education Committee on television ad spots in Seattle, Spokane and Yakima. ...

Local CoCs insist they have no knowledge of the ad campaign, and have been backing far, far away from the mess. An article in the Seattle Times goes for the bigger picture, explaining that the ads are "part of an effort targeting supreme-court and attorney-general candidates in 25 races around the country.":

...In some states, Anderson said, the Chamber is more upfront about its political involvement. In South Dakota, the Chamber is seeking to defeat U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Anderson said he recently traveled to the state to publicly voice the Chamber's displeasure with Daschle, who has been key to stopping legislation to curb class-action lawsuits legislation the Chamber supports.

In that race, the Chamber so far has spent about $400,000 on television ads, a big buy in a small market, Anderson said.

...Reports reflecting the group's recent campaign spending are not yet available, for the most part, but Anderson put the organization's budget for state races at more than $15 million this year.

...To head off a court hearing, Bruce Boram, director of the Voters Education Committee, agreed to reveal the donor list by Sunday.

Boram, a veteran Republican campaign consultant, has been paid $10,000 for his work on the campaign, according to reports filed with the PDC. ...

By my count, that leaves about $13 million worth of U.S. Chamber of Commerce money floating around that's been set aside specifically to target candidates who are strong consumer rights supporters. I guess in the CoC's universe, consumers and business are firmly on opposite sides, which says something rather unpleasant about the U.S. business climate. So be sure to keep an eye out for them in your neck of the woods.

Posted by natasha at September 14, 2004 05:48 AM | Elections | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Also realize, Natasha, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the Chamber of Commerce, which has traditionally been the voice of small businesses, has been more or less taken over by the large corporations, and they don't care much if the little guy suffers for the sake of their gains, be they a small businessman or consumer.

If the Dmeocrats were smart, they would take advantage of this dissent beneath the surface. Consumers will buy more through local, small businesses if they see themselves as getting better service, and small businesses will stand a better chance of surviving against larger businesses if they have a more stable base of consumers that prefer their products and services. Tanslate good serivce into "I don't think you'll screw me like _those_ guys would", and you have a possible working relationship that's tailor-made for the Democrats to use to their advantage.

Posted by: palamedes at September 14, 2004 09:44 AM

On the healthcare issue alone, the Democrats should be working to make more inroads in the small business community. I agree with you, it's a natural constituency that the party needs to work to hook up with.

Posted by: natasha at September 14, 2004 12:45 PM