the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest U.S. business lobby, “will be getting more involved in primaries this cycle,” said Blair Latoff Holmes, the organization’s executive director for media relations.
He said the Chamber of Commerce has kept tabs on legislators’ votes on the debt ceiling and government shutdown as well as their positions on issues such as trade, immigration, and entitlement and tax reform, with an eye toward deciding which candidates to support.
Tea party independence?
Tea party leaders are defiant, threatening to run candidates as independents if business groups defeat them in next year’s Republican primaries. Already, conservative primary challengers have emerged to take on Republican Senate and House incumbents in states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Idaho, Texas and South Carolina.
Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, called business leaders who oppose the tea party “RINOs” (Republicans in name only) and “crony capitalists” who are “feeding at the government trough” and are interested only in “making the trains run on time” rather than changing the unsustainable course of government spending.
“Business is overreaching,” he said of their plans to oppose insurgent candidates in Republican primaries.
“Business can bring a lot of money to the table, but they can’t bring boots on the ground” in a way that rouses public support for Republican candidates the way the tea party does, he said.
But from Wall Street to Main Street, all of the major business associations, including the Chamber of Commerce, the retailers, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers lobbied for quick passage of an increase in the nation’s debt limit and end to the shutdown to prevent another major economic slowdown at a time when many businesses hoped the economy would be picking up speed.