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Business-labor ad war kicks off for 2012 [video]

November 16, 2011|By Tom Hamburger | Washington Bureau
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is airing three hard-hitting ads in battleground Senate races, all embracing the conservative, Republican-oriented themes of small government, lower taxes and, in some cases, bashing President Obama's health initiative.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is airing three hard-hitting ads in battleground… (U.S. Chamber of Commerce )

The 2012 political ad war between business and labor officially began today, months earlier than it has ever started in the past.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is airing three hard-hitting ads in battleground Senate races, all embracing the conservative, Republican-oriented themes of small government, lower taxes and, in some cases, bashing President Obama's health initiative.

The ads, as we reported Wednesday, are also airing in three House districts and are starting nine months earlier than the first Chamber ads began in 2008.

The biggest force on the left is on the air and in the fight as well.

On the same day the Chamber announced its 2012 campaign to elect a “business-friendly" Congress, the head of the Service Employees International Union, Mary Kay Henry, announced that her organization was endorsing the reelection of President Obama to defend the 99% of Americans who have suffered while the top 1% benefit financially.

SEIU partnered with two other groups to launch ads in three Senate races warning Republican candidates not to attack government healthcare. The ads are running in Nevada and Montana -- where the Chamber is advertising -- and in Massachusetts, where Sen. Scott Brown faces a potentially tough reelection fight and the Chamber has an investment to protect. Brown was elected to the seat held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2010 with substantial help from the Chamber.

The Chamber ads are drawing a strong response from Democrats. In Ohio, State Democratic Party spokesman Justin Barasky accused the business-backed Chamber of being misleading in bashing the state's Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown. The Chamber is targeting Brown, who scored only 9% in the organization's "key vote" survey. They will be backing his opponent, Republican Josh Mandel.

"The secretly funded Chamber falsely claims that Sen. Sherrod Brown voted to raise taxes," Barasky said late Wednesday morning. "In reality he voted to end massive tax breaks for only the five biggest oil companies who are enjoying billions in profits while Ohioans struggle with prices at the pump. But no amount of undisclosed cash will hide the fact that when it comes to protecting Big Oil tax breaks, on this issue as with so many others, Josh Mandel refuses to stand with middle-class Ohioans."

In a statement responding to the ads, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said:
“For months the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stormed the Capitol to beg, even plead, with Republicans to support a bipartisan agreement on the debt ceiling that would save the economy and avoid a downgrade in America’s credit rating.  But Republican Senate candidates almost in unison ignored the Chamber.  Now the U.S. Chamber, not to be confused with local chambers of commerce, is turning around and beginning to spend millions in secret, undisclosed contributions to prop up the same candidates that ignored the Chamber’s pleas.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday launched ads supporting Dean Heller in Nevada, Dennis Rehberg in Montana, and Josh Mandel in Ohio – three Republicans who opposed the bipartisan debt compromise earlier this year.”

tom.hamburger@latimes.com

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