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  Chamber to Spend Big in 2000 Race

By John Mintz
Tuesday, October 26, 1999; Page A09

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has contributed only modest sums in recent elections, plans to spend more than $5 million in 2000 to support "pro-business" congressional candidates in tight races.

The business organization already has raised $1 million for its newly rejuvenated political action committee.

An advisory board will select about 35 House races and 10 Senate contests that could receive at least $100,000 each. The funds will be contributed in a variety of ways by the chamber or its local affiliates, including directly to candidates and as unregulated "soft money" to party organizations for issue ads that don't overtly endorse a candidate.

Chamber executives acknowledge most of the funds will go to Republicans, but insist they will strive to identify Democrats who support their causes and face tough opponents.

"Some Republicans will complain, 'How can you support Democrats when the House is at risk?' " said chamber president Tom Donohue. "We go to these business-oriented Democrats all the time, and I can't turn away from them."

© 1999 The Washington Post Company

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