Chamber of Commerce to Dump Millions in Senate Races

Thomas Donohue says the Chamber will spend north of $20 million.

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It's going to take well north of $20 million to succeed, but U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue says he's starting to feel good about keeping the U.S. Senate divided enough so that the filibuster will remain. "I feel better today than I did three weeks ago," he told U.S. News over lunch Tuesday. His goal is a simple one: Make sure that one side doesn't get a super majority of 60-plus members that can ramrod anti-business legislation through without facing a filibuster. His main worry is that pro-union members might pick up enough seats in the fall elections to push through the so-called "card check" legislation that eases the creation of unionized shops. To make sure there are enough opponents - Republicans and Democrats - in the Senate, the Chamber plans to spend "comfortably north of $20 million." He predicted that the Chamber will have spent a record amount on congressional races by Election Day. Some 12 Senate candidates in tight races will see money, he said, highlighting Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith. "We're going to put the money there and play the game," he said. But, he added, if it looks like a lost cause, he will quickly shift the money to other races. Donohue, who sounded like he favors Sen. John McCain in the presidential race though the Chamber won't endorse McCain or Sen. Barack Obama, added that just having 40 Republicans in the Senate isn't enough to block anti-business legislation. The reason: some Republican senators, like Maine's senators and Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, don't always vote with the party on business issues. "Forty doesn't protect any filibuster," he said.