U.S. Chamber Expands Role In 2000 Election With $5 Million Fund

In an effort to win a "pro-business" Congress in 2000, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced that it will significantly step up its political-action effort by spending more than $5 million on behalf of business-friendly candidates. In the past the Washington-based business organization has limited its support to candidate endorsements. The Chamber, through its political action committee, will select between 35 and 40 House races and 10 to 12 Senate races that could receive $100,000 each. "We will only enter close races where there is a pro-business candidate and where we can make a difference," stressed Chamber President Thomas H. Donohue in announcing the program at a press conference Oct. 26. He said that the $100,000 will be spent in the manner most appropriate for individual races, chosen "from our arsenal of opportunity" that includes both hard and soft money, get-out-the-vote campaigns, issue advertising, and other methods of support. Republicans figure to get the bulk of the Chamber funds because "it just happens to be the case the more business-oriented candidates are Republicans," Donohue said. But he indicated that some Democrats likely will receive help, too. To lead the fundraising effort for the program, Donohue has tapped Ted Welch, former Republican National Committee finance chairman and top fundraiser for Lamar Alexander's Presidential campaign.

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