Chamber of Commerce to oppose tea party in primaries

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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At the annual State of American Business Address on Wednesday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue announced that the chamber plans on endorsing against some tea party members in Republican primaries.

“In 2014, the chamber will work to protect and expand a pro-business majority in the House and advance our position and our influence in the Senate,” Donohue said. “The business community understands what’s at stake.”

Donohue explained in an interview with Bloomberg, that while he is skeptical of big government, he opposes politicians who have “hitched their trailer to the tea party wagon.” Donohue blames these lawmakers for shutting down the government in October 2013.

The chamber president promised to be involved in the mid-term elections “right from the beginning” and the business community has already showed signs of their commitment to getting “pro-business” candidates elected.

This past November, the chamber financially supported Bradley Byrne over tea party favorite Dean Young in the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat. With the help of business groups and the chamber’s $199,000 backing, Byrne prevailed.

Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash faces a business-backed primary challenger. Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce head Steve Stevens decided against challenging Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie.

Donohue also touted immigration legislation opposed by many conservatives.

“We’re determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted,” said Donohue.

He promised, “The chamber will pull out all of the stops — through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics, and partnerships with our friends in unions and faith-based organizations and law enforcement groups and others — to get this job done.

Heritage Action for America’s Dan Holler told Bloomberg that the chamber’s “pro-big-business agenda” is what makes it disconnected from other Republican groups.

Holler explained, “If they just wanted to let the private sector thrive, the chamber would have no better friends than conservatives and tea party folks,” he continued, “If they’re instead content to see business as usual in Washington, that’s where they will run into a ton of resistance not only from conservatives but also independents.”

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