State Senator Alan Lowenthal charged Wednesday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is trying to buy the 47th Congressional District race for Rebublican candidate Gary DeLong, already spending $319,000 in one week on a Southern California TV attack ad.
DeLong, a Long Beach City Councilman representing about 55,000 residents of the Eastside's Third District, has been endorsed by conservative House leaders such as John Bohner and Paul Ryan in a race both parties are investing in to gain the majority.
The National Democratic Committee has announced it is investing resources in Lowenthal's bid for the U.S. House of Representatives seat--newly created and straddling the Long Beach-Orange County line.
In recent days, an attack ad was broadcast featuring a grim-faced Lowenthal and claimed his bills "have been called job killers." DeLong is not promoted in the ad, but it is one of several funded by the Chamber, whose membership includes some of the largest corporations in the U.S. and which are not disclosed.
"They're trying to buy this election, let's be clear," Lowenthal said at a morning press gathering he called at Lola's Mexican Cuisine to counter the TV ad's charges. Flanked by the restaurant's owner, Luis Navarro, and President of the California Small Business Association, Betty Jo Toccoli, Lowenthal decried the money from elsewhere in the country allegedly flooding the local campaign.
Toccoli praised Lowenthal for staying in contact even in the face of a position the group doesn't support. The Small business group claims 200,000 small business members and Toccoli said it is bipartisan, but fully supports Lowenthal.
"Let's go for the guy who can get the job done," Toccoli told the restaurant dining room of reporters. "And this guy can get the job done in Congress."
DeLong campaign communications director Noel Fritsch attended Lowenthal's press gathering and handed out a list of questions about the group, questioning its membership size and degree of difficulty to join. Asked about the DeLong campaign's charge that Lowenthal is anti-business in the face of the small business owners association in-person endorsement, and the national money in a local campaign, Fritsch said he would simply point back "to the Chamber's endorsement."
Lowenthal defended himself as pro-business, a model of public-private sector partnerships such as the longtime effort to clean up pollution caused by the Long Beach-L.A. shipping basin while supporting its expansion thus job growth.
And he read a letter from Maersk, the largest shipping company in the ports complex, which is the country's busiest.
The statement by Doug Morgante, National Director of State Government Relations for Maersk Inc., noted Lowenthal's collaborative governing style. He said in closing that "we believe he would be an excellent addition to the U.S. Congress."
Lowenthal refrained from criticizing DeLong on any specific issue, instead pointing to what he called "phenomenal sums of money" from unidentified sources that are "infiltrating" local races.
The U.S. Chamber does not need to disclose its sources of donations that are spent in campaigns, said Lowenthal, who called the surge of millions into local races "the real opponent."
Lowenthal's campaign says the Chamber TV attack ad features a small businesswoman complaining about how she can't hire people because she's unsure of the business climate, implying Lowenthal is to blame.
"Funny thing is, her business is in Minnesota, and one of its main services is helping other companies offshore jobs," Lowenthal campaign consultant Mike Shimpock said. "Even more funny is the citations they use to attack Alan for 'increasing regulations' and other conservative bugaboo language. It is AB568, a bill to prevent the shackling of pregnant juvenile detainees around the abdomen."