* OK, well, this explains some things.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is weighing a major role in Democratic primaries in key congressional races nationally, which could produce weakened nominees who would be more easily defeated by Republicans, according to an internal memo obtained on Thursday by the Associated Press.
The unorthodox strategy could heighten Democratic upheaval in states like Florida and Pennsylvania where the party is struggling to unite around a nominee as it fights to retake the Senate — and that appears to be precisely the Chamber’s goal. It comes as the business lobby has already begun spending aggressively on behalf of select Senate Republicans more than a year before the 2016 elections, where the GOP is fighting to hang onto its newly won majority. […]
The memo was written by the Chamber’s top two political officials, Rob Engstrom and Scott Reed, to members of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Committee, a group of about 35 business leaders and others who will meet in the fall to discuss political strategy and spending for the upcoming elections.
A senior strategist with knowledge of the deliberations confirmed that the intent of the memo was to encourage involvement in the Democratic primaries, including possible spending on television ads. A weakened Democratic nominee in a state like Florida or Illinois could make the general election more winnable for the Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and require Democratic expenditures that could cut into the party’s budget elsewhere.
In Illinois, for example, Sen. Mark Kirk (R) appears to be quite vulnerable to a challenge from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D). Under the Chamber’s plan, the group would intervene in support of Duckworth’s Democratic rival, former Chicago Urban League leader Andrea Zopp, assuming that Kirk, who trails Duckworth in statewide polls, would face a far easier race against Zopp. […]
It’s basic, old fashioned electoral mischief. The Chamber wouldn’t support candidates like Zopp and Sittenfeld because the group agrees with them; it would support these candidates because the lobbying organization sees them as easy to beat.
There is, of course, the very real possibility that Democratic primary voters will see through the charade. It’s also possible that folks like Zopp and Sittenfeld wouldn’t be quite as weak as conservatives assume.
The Illinois GOP has been pushing Zopp’s candidacy for months. Now, we may know why. There could be bigtime Chamber money coming into that primary race via independent expenditures.
On the House side, Republicans are unlikely to lose their large majority but the Chamber seems determined to keep it that way. The memo lists five races where Democrats may not have a clear shot for a nominee to take down a potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent: Bob Dold in Illinois, Bruce Poliquin in Maine, Cresent Hardy in Nevada, Mike Coffman in Colorado and Martha McSally in Arizona.