Politics

Chamber of Commerce Endorses Nebraska Democrat

Pro-business group rarely backs Democrats for federal office

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Nebraska Rep. Brad Ashford "has put politics aside in order to deliver results." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a rare move, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed a Democrat for Congress on Monday.  

Nebraska Rep. Brad Ashford, one of this year's most vulnerable incumbents , earned the pro-business group's endorsement at an event in the state's 2nd District.   

"The Chamber of Commerce and I both know that to grow our economy we need to lower the tax burden on businesses, improve our infrastructure, and make sure we have a highly skilled and trained workforce," Ashford said.  

So far this cycle, the Chamber has backed three other Democrats: California's Jim Costa, Texas' Henry Cuellar and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema.   

Ashford narrowly defeated gaffe-prone GOP Rep. Lee Terry in 2014. This year, he's facing Republican Don Bacon in a district the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates Tilts Democrat

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In a district that Mitt Romney carried by 7 points in 2012, Ashford needs to convince voters to possibly split their tickets. The congressman has previously been both an independent and a Republican.   

At a parade over the weekend, Ashford was asked if he was a Republican. He didn't say no.  

"Aw, I don't know. Whatever you want me to be," he said, according to tracking footage from Republicans .    

The chamber endorsement could help Ashford win over GOP voters. He has a 90 percent voting scorecard from the chamber. Lawmakers typically need to score 70 percent or above to receive an endorsement.   

“In Ashford’s time in Congress, he has put politics aside in order to deliver results for Nebraska’s 2nd District," said Scott Eckart, director of congressional and public affairs at the chamber.  

"He has a proven record fighting for job creation and economic opportunity, and we’re proud to partner with the Omaha business community to support him today," Eckart said.  

This is the second major endorsement from a pro-business group for Ashford. The National Federation of Independent Business endorsed him earlier this month.  

“Congressman Ashford’s support for small business priorities has earned him the right to be re-elected,” the NFIB's national political director Sharon Sussin said on June 15.  

Bacon immediately fired back at Ashford Monday in response to the incumbent's recent endorsements.   

“Nothing can change the fact that liberal Brad Ashford is a career politician who is the choice of the Washington Democrat Establishment," said Bacon campaign manager Mark Dreiling. "Ashford has voted for Nancy Pelosi for speaker twice, he's against the repeal of Obamacare, and he has a history of supporting huge tax hikes on Nebraska."

Contact Pathé at  simonepathe@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter at  @sfpathe .

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