While the Chamber won’t talk numbers, GOP campaign strategists expect the Chamber to spend up to $70-$80 million on the elections, up from $50 million in 2010, then a record. The Chamber does not play in the presidential race.
President Thomas Donohue wouldn’t bite when asked for his budget. But when quizzed about repeating the 2010 $50 million effort, he said, “Some people think that was a round number in the past. I would say this is a more important election.”
Donohue added that the Chamber won’t be running national ads, instead focusing on specific candidates who back business. “We don’t do peanut butter deals. We endorse a lot of people. But we don’t spread whatever amount of money across everybody that’s running, we pick the key races.”
Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, added that the organization got involved in races far earlier than ever before and is expanding into social media to reach and educate voters. “There’s a lot of newer activity going on here,” he said.
Donohue suggested that changing control of the Democrat-led Senate is a priority. “There are a lot of opportunities there, particularly if it’s a close presidential election,” he said.
Donohue and President Obama have had a hot and cold relationship. The Chamber has fought Obamacare and a wave of regulations on businesses, but has teamed with the administration’s efforts on education and job fairs for veterans.