The poor showing by House Democrats on election night extended to first-term lawmakers endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, potentially leaving the business group with fewer allies in Congress next year.

Of the 23 first-term Democrats backed by the Chamber in a controversial move earlier this election cycle, only 12 have won reelection. Four lost their races, and other contests remain too close to call.

The election performance may increase tensions between the GOP and the lobbying group, which drew criticism from Republicans for its support of Democratic candidates instead of challengers in competitive districts.

Chamber endorsements were not enough to secure second terms for Democratic Reps. Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Abby Finkenauer (Iowa), Kendra Horn (Okla.) and Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) — four seats that Democrats flipped in 2018.

Republicans scored early victories in House elections, winning back at least a half-dozen seats held by Democrats without losing any of their own.

“We approach endorsements based on not partisanship or polling in someone’s district but how members voted on business priority issues,” Neil Bradley, Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer, told The Hill on Wednesday.

“When we look at both the Republican side and the Democratic side of our endorsement, we’re very pleased that a majority of folks on both sides of the aisle who we supported will be returning,” he added.

First-term House Republicans earned just a few more endorsements than Democrats, at 29.

Twenty-eight of the 29 won reelection, with Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) leading in a race that is too close to call. The endorsed Republicans included Reps. Greg Pence (Ind.), Anthony Gonzales (Ohio), Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Lance Gooden (Texas) and Carol Miller (W.Va.).

The Chamber’s decision to extend endorsements to almost two dozen Democrats, first reported by The Hill, was met with swift criticism by Republicans. President Trump reportedly asked CEO Tom Donohue if they were a “done deal,” and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he didn’t want the Chamber’s endorsement “because they have sold out.”

House Democrats, meanwhile, embraced the support from a group traditionally more aligned with the GOP.

Chamber-endorsed Democrats who won on Tuesday include Reps. Sharice Davids (Kan.), Andy Kim (N.J.), Cindy Axne (Iowa), Dean Phillips (Minn.) and Greg Stanton (Ariz.).

Many of the endorsements stemmed from lawmaker support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a measure the Chamber spent heavily on during the 116th Congress.

For the other side of the Capitol, the Chamber endorsed only Senate GOP incumbents, including Sen. Martha McSally (Ariz.), who lost to Democrat Mark Kelly, and Sen. Cory Gardner, who was ousted by Democrat John Hickenlooper.

Bradley predicted on Wednesday that Republicans will keep their majority in the Senate. Several races in the battle for control of the chamber have yet to be called, but Democrats fell short in states like Iowa, Maine and South Carolina, where they were considered competitive going into Election Day.

A Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House would mean more consensus-building is needed to move any legislation through Congress.

“It appears we’re going to remain in divided government, which means that compromise in the middle is going to be essential to get anything done,” Bradley said, highlighting the coronavirus relief proposal put forth by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

“If you look at where the center of gravity was with respect to something like the Problem Solvers Caucus and their recommendations, that’s going to remain the center of gravity both in the lame-duck and heading into this next Congress,” Bradley said.

The Chamber endorsed GOP challengers as well, including Florida Republicans Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenez, who defeated Democratic Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, respectively.

“There were also a number of freshman Democrats who the Chamber endorsed against because they didn’t have a pro-business voting record,” Bradley said. “We went out and endorsed challengers to Democrats who didn’t perform well on our scorecard and they won as well.”

 

Chamber-endorsed Democratic representatives

Colin Allred (Texas) WIN

Cindy Axne (Iowa) WIN

Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.) BEHIND

TJ Cox (Calif.) BEHIND

Angie Craig (Minn.) WIN

Joe Cunningham (S.C.) LOSS, GOP Rep.-elect Nancy Mace

Sharice Davids (Kan. 3) WIN

Antonio Delgado (N.Y.) LEADING

Abby Finkenauer (Iowa) LOSS, GOP Rep.-elect Ashley Hinson

Lizzie Fletcher (Texas) WIN

Josh Harder (Calif.) WIN

Kendra Horn (Okla.) LOSS, GOP Rep.-elect Stephanie Bice

Andy Kim (N.J.) WIN

Susie Lee (Nev.), LEADING

Elaine Luria (Va.) WIN

Ben McAdams (Utah), LEADING

Dean Phillips (Minn.) WIN

Harley Rouda (Calif.) TOO CLOSE

Abigail Spanberger (Va.) TOO CLOSE

Haley Stevens (Mich.) WIN

Greg Stanton (Ariz.) WIN

Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) LOSS, GOP Rep.-elect Yvette Herrell

David Trone (Md.) WIN

as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday

 

Tags 2020 election house democrats us chamber commerce reelection bids struggle Abby Finkenauer Abigail Spanberger Antonio Delgado Carol Miller Cindy Axne Colin Allred Cory Gardner Dan Crenshaw David Trone Dean Phillips Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Donald Trump Donna Shalala Elaine Luria Greg Pence Greg Stanton Haley Stevens Harley Rouda Jeff Van Drew Jim Hagedorn Joe Cunningham John Hickenlooper Kendra Horn Kevin McCarthy Lance Gooden Mark Kelly Martha McSally Sharice Davids Susie Lee
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