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US Chamber plots Zopp support, 10th CD intervention

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* 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.

* More

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.

* Also

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Almost the Weekend - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:42 pm:

    So Republicans will ask for a democratic ballot to pick Zopp instead of voting in the GOP presidential election? Keep dreaming

  2. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===So Republicans will ask for a democratic ballot to pick Zopp===

    Who said that?

    The idea is to spend money promoting Zopp to Dem primary voters.

  3. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:46 pm:

    Duckworth has already blasted an email about this.

    Alternatively ATW, they could air attack ads on weak spots for Duckworth for example and on strong spots for Zopp, much like Claire McCaskill did in Missouri to the GOP primary in 2012.

  4. - Almost the Weekend - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:49 pm:

    The way I envisioned the commercial was the chamber of commerce endorsing Zopp, and I couldn’t visualize a Democrat using that as a reason to vote for Zopp. But now I get it. Something similar to what McCaskill did to Todd Akin in the Missouri primary in 2012.

  5. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:54 pm:

    Couple double-ought spys there at the chamber, real Jethro Bodines.

    “They’re a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys, they may look dumb, but tnat’s a disguise, they’re masterminds in the ways of espionage.”

    Wnat was the title of the memo: “Our Sneaky Plan (Don’t Tell Anyone, It’s a Secret)?”

    You knew Zopp was a GOP front once Bill Daley’s name was mentioned.

    For crying out loud, Kirk already spilled the beans publicly, saying that Zopp would be a weaker candidate in the general election.

    What’s Zopp’s payoff for allowing herself to be used this way?

  6. - And I Approved This Message - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:03 pm:

    “The 2016 Elections are made possible by generous funding from the Citizens United Decision and the good people on the United States Supreme Court. And not contributions by people like you.”

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:10 pm:

    The only people who don’t realize Zopp is the infinitely easier mark for Kirk to beat is Zopp and her supporters. Obviously the Chamber recognizes that.

  8. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:18 pm:

    Not really a new idea. Education groups lined up behind Republican Kirk Dillard in the 2014 primary and helped fund him despite the fact that these unions ordinarily support Democrats.

  9. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:21 pm:

    URF, the IEA backed Dillard four years earlier. The difference here is that Dillard pledged to support those unions.

  10. - walker - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    IEA frequently backs Republicans, and not in some underhanded way.

  11. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    You read memos like that and you wonder if they really didn’t think it would leak.

  12. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:32 pm:

    The intrigue!
    I hear it!
    Zopp…Zopp…Zopp…Zopp - like an old faucet.

  13. - pundent - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:36 pm:

    Ultimately Duckworth will be the well resourced candidate. It’s hard to see where the Zopp money will be coming from. If Zopp is deemed to be a legitimate threat it will be easy to slate another Dem to split the anti-Duckworth vote.

    The Chamber and Kirk are rightfully concerned about a head to head match-up with Duckworth.

  14. - walker - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:45 pm:

    How’s Rahm playing this? Been assuming he’s involved with Zopp.

  15. - Apocalypse Now - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:54 pm:

    Glad to see the US Chamber play this role. Keeping someone like Mark Kirk in office is important. Now, we have some Democrats crying foul. Didn’t the unions just work against Republican Rauner in the primary last year.

  16. - late to the party - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:07 pm:

    AN - who’s ‘crying foul?’ This is just politics as usual when there is unlimited money for both sides.

    As for the IEA and AFSCME - they both have and currently do support many GOP candidates and both would likely have been all in for Dillard had he won the primary.

  17. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:09 pm:

    – Hard to see where Zopp money will be coming from.–

    In the primary? Well, there’s the chamber.

    And have you met Gov. Rauner’s friends?

  18. - Albany Park Patriot - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:22 pm:

    In fairness to Zopp, she DOES have some pretty Republican positions and likes things like charter schools. So maybe they actually agree with her policy platform and don’t JUST see her as a pushover who surely would weaken the ticket.

  19. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:24 pm:

    The first official action by the Chamber will be to hire David Lee Roth to intro her at every event by singing, “Here comes Andrea ‘Boze Dee Boze Dee Bop Ziddy’ Zopp.”

  20. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:26 pm:

    “Keeping someone like Mark Kirk in office is important.”

    In as much as you don’t want someone like Mark Kirk out roaming the streets!

    – MrJM

  21. - Ricky - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:13 pm:

    The Chamber would be wise to play this game elsewhere.

    Sure, Zopp is a weaker candidate than Duckworth, but I still think she beats Kirk easily. Zopp suffers by comparison to Tammy’s personal story (who doesn’t?) but in a General Election, Zopp’s corporate background and experience as a federal prosecutor become real assets that attract some independent voters who might not back Duckworth.

    Unless they can help get Richard Boykin or Napoleon Harris nominated, the Chamber won’t be able to save Kirk.

  22. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:34 pm:

    The Democrats could retaliate by running primary ads for Kirk.

  23. - Excessively Rabid - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:50 pm:

    …or they could just round up some GOP candidates who can get elected without this kind of “help.”

  24. - Emanuel Can't - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 4:28 pm:

    Dear US Chamber:
    Sometimes the “loser” wins. Just ask Lisa Hernandez.

  25. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 4:43 pm:

    ==- Ricky - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 3:13 pm:==

    Zopp’s record is antithetical to a lot of Democratic voters: rate-raiser at Exelon, twice refused to prosecute police torture, no-bid corrupt contracts, closed 50 schools at Rahm lapdog.

  26. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 5:05 pm:

    = 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.

    Or the US Chamber could be really bad at politics in recent years and they plan on continuing to be so for years to come.

  27. - Ricky - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 6:18 pm:

    @ Precinct Captain. Agreed! Those are all weaknesses that hurt her in a Dem primary. I’m talking about her as a General Election candidate when those issues aren’t nearly as damaging. She’ll beat Kirk just like Tammy will.

  28. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 7:32 pm:

    Precinct Captain. I’m not sure the politics of charter schools plays out the way you think it does. After all, nobody gets assigned to a charter school. Every single student in charter schools has one or two parents who are thrilled that their kid is there and not in their local public schools. And many other people (if they’re not employed by CPS) probably assume that the charters are better as well. Attacking charter schools is asymptotically approaching a losing proposition.

  29. - Roscoe Tom - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 8:24 am:

    Why would Republicans cross over in this upcoming primary with so many looney tune candidates to vote for in their own party?

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