Big business wants to get more involved in Republican primaries. It does so at its own peril.
On Wednesday, the Club for Growth criticized GOP Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho for accepting the endorsement of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a business group that recently decided to support expanding Medicaid in the state as part of the Affordable Care Act. Many conservatives consider backing any part of Obamacare heresy, and a spokesman for the free-market group questioned whether Simpson thought the same way.
“Does Mike Simpson support or oppose expanding Medicaid under Obamacare in Idaho, just as his supporters in the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry do?” said Club spokesman Barney Keller. “Medicaid expansion will cost taxpayers billions and stick future generations with the bill. Conservatives across the country are rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and Mike Simpson should have to answer if he joins with the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry in supporting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Idaho.”
The Club has endorsed Simpson’s primary opponent, lawyer Bryan Smith, making the state’s 2nd District race one of the premier battles between establishment and conservative Republicans. The IACI, meanwhile, has not only announced its support of Simpson, it has formed a super PAC to help him win reelection. After the government shutdown in October, business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said they would begin to aggressively support business-friendly Republicans over tea-party conservatives.
But as Wednesday’s episode demonstrates, their increased involvement carries risk for themselves and the candidates they back. Candidates who ally themselves with business risk being seen as the establishment choice, which some conservatives see as synonymous with being too moderate. As the Club did, they will question whether Simpson — who has voted to repeal Obamacare dozens of times in Congress — is OK with Medicaid expansion in Idaho.
In other words, the groups’ involvement can hurt more than it helps. It’s why some political operatives working with them are deeply skeptical they can do anything to affect the outcome of these primaries.
The Simpson campaign, which was also endorsed by Mitt Romney earlier this week, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
What We're Following See More »
With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."