Unions, Business Lobbies Look to November

By Bennett Roth, CQ-Roll Call

Anticipating highly competitive Congressional elections, advocacy groups are pivoting swiftly into campaign mode as they seek to preserve or overturn legislation they have intensely lobbied for the past few years.

Liberal and labor groups, which have backed Democratic measures such as health care and financial regulatory reform, are endeavoring to prevent big Republican gains they fear could threaten their favored initiatives.

Meanwhile, conservative and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are working to elect a Republican majority they hope will undo or at least amend these measures.

Targeting vulnerable Senate and House seats, groups on both sides are expected to pour tens of millions of dollars into loosely regulated independent election expenditures.

Health Care for America Now, a group funded by unions and other progressive organizations, spent $47 million over the past two years nudging Congress to approve the massive health care legislation.

While HCAN retrenched after President Barack Obama signed the health care bill into law in March, the nonprofit group is ramping up this summer as lawmakers campaign for re-election.

“Like everyone else, our activities will increase in August and everything shifts into overdrive by Labor Day,” said Ethan Rome, who took over as HCAN’s executive director in April.

Rome said his group will be paying particular attention to 25 to 30 districts represented by Democratic lawmakers, in states such as Colorado and Ohio, who may need some bucking up because of their votes for the health care plan.

Such support is intended to counter the pounding these lawmakers are expected to receive from other groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which wants to replace those Democrats with Republicans who are pledging to repeal the health care law and who oppose the Wall Street reform effort.

Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, said his group would be supporting candidates “who don’t subscribe to the health care law.”

Josten said the chamber hopes to raise as much as $75 million to spend on election activities in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois where there are both critical Senate and House seats in play.

He said chamber activities will include ads, phone banks, mailings and the deployment of 400 to 600 volunteers to help on the ground.

To read more, visit: http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docid=news-000003699067&topic=Feature

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