WASHINGTON (AP) — Promoting parochial messages, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday announced ad campaigns in 10 competitive House races and two Senate campaigns to help candidates whom the nation's largest business lobbying group see as pro-business.
Stretching from Massachusetts to California, the House ads are tailored to voters' district-specific interests, such as immigration, water policy and bridge repair. The ads are designed to help House Republicans maintain — and expand — their majority with the backing of one of Washington's most potent political groups. The ads also look to defend Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and keep Colorado's Senate race competitive.
"As the son of immigrants, he knows that our system is broken and he is working to fix the many problems with immigration," one of the 30-second ads says in support of Rep. David Valadao, who is running for a second term in California's Central Valley. "Valadeo wants to grow our economy and keep families together."
Another ad, running in Minnesota, promotes candidate Stewart Mills as "a job creator for Congress." "Washington's a mess. We need new leaders with experience creating jobs," the narrator says in the ad backing Mills, whose family founded a chain of outdoors stores in the upper Midwest. The ad also notes Mills' support for "responsible Minnesota mining for good jobs."
In New York's Hudson Valley, the Chamber is calling two-term Rep. Chris Gibson "an independent voice for Upstate New York." "He's fighting for it, bringing people together to grow jobs, upgrade our transportation infrastructure, rebuild our roads and bridges," the ad says to help Gibson, who is expected to face wealthy Democratic rival Sean Eldridge in November.
For Senate races, the Chamber is running ads to help McConnell, who faces both a primary challenge and a strong Democratic challenger come November. "He fights Washington for Kentucky," a small business owner says in the pro-McConnell ad.
In Colorado, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has recorded ads in English and Spanish for Rep. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican who is running for the Senate and is among the national GOP's top recruits. Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential contender, tells voters: "America needs principled leaders like Cory Gardner in the Senate. That's how we'll end gridlock, that's how we'll turn this country around."
In all, the ads ignore the Democrats these candidates are likely to face. It is still early in the election calendar and many of these candidates are not widely known at home. The deep-pocketed Chamber, however, does not shy from negatives ads and could shift its tone as November's elections draw closer.
"This is the reward House Republicans get for devoting themselves to stacking the deck for their special interest backers at the expense of the middle class," said Rep. Steve Israel, who runs House Democrats' campaign committee.
The ads are set to help Rep. Dan Benishek, who was elected in the tea party wave of 2010 and barely won a second term in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Benishek ran his first campaign pledging to challenge Washington's establishment and now is getting a hand from Washington's biggest business lobbying group.
"In Congress, he's been a champion of economic growth," the narrator in that ad says over rock music. "Dr. Dan understands small-town Michiganders. He's been listening to us. He's fighting for rural economies."
The Chamber is also running ads for Doug Ose, who is looking to return to Congress to represent California, and Bob Dold, who is trying to do the same in Illinois. Rep. Mike Coffman, who won his third term in 2012 with just 48 percent of the vote, and Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho and Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky are also getting help.
Richard Tisei, who is challenging nine-term Democratic Rep. John Tierney in Massachusetts, and Nevada Rep. Joe Heck also are in races where the Chamber is spending.
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