The nation's biggest business lobby launched an ad campaign on Tuesday supporting what it calls "Friends of the U.S. Chamber" candidates in four competitive Senate races across the country.
The 30-second television spots will air in Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota, according to a chamber press release. The new batch of ads will focus on candidates' positions on domestic energy production, health care and government spending.
“We need leaders in the Senate who understand that free enterprise and not more government will lead the American recovery,” Chamber CEO and President Thomas J. Donohue said in the news release. “Our efforts underscore the importance of electing a pro-business Senate that will be focused on good long-term transportation policy, increased energy production, and fiscal responsibility to bring our economy back.”
Two of the new Chamber ads target Senate challengers for backing the Affordable Care Act. In one of those ads, a narrator says Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-Nev.) "sided with [then House Majority Leader] Nancy Pelosi to ram through government-funded health care." Berkley is running against Republican incumbent Dean Heller, who was appointed to the Nevada seat after former Sen. John Ensign retired in May 2011.
The pro-Heller spot makes no mention of the House ethics investigation launched earlier this month to determine whether Berkley pushed for legislation that financially benefited her family.
Another ad calls out former North Dakota Attorney General and Democratic Senate hopeful Heidi Heitkamp for supporting the health care reform bill but later saying certain aspects of the law "need to be fixed." The remaining two spots feature chamber-backed Senate candidates Linda Lingle, a former GOP governor of Hawaii, and Heather Wilson, formerly a Republican congresswoman from New Mexico.
The fresh ad blitz announced on Tuesday marks the latest episode in an unprecedented year of political advocacy for the GOP-friendly group.
Chamber spokesman Ryan Goettel told Roll Call in March that the pro-business organization is wading into national contests earlier than it ever has in its 100-year history.
UPDATE: 2:13 p.m. -- Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, responded to the chamber's ads on Tuesday: "The US Chamber of Commerce knows Republicans like Linda Lingle, Dean Heller, Heather Wilson, and Rick Berg will put corporate special interests ahead of middle class families in Washington. That’s exactly why the Chamber is spending millions in secret money to prop up these weak candidates. These Republican candidates would be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the Chamber’s special interest agenda that puts insurance companies over seniors, oil companies over small businesses, and billionaires over the middle class."