Business Groups Ready for 2000 Elections

In an attempt to respond to the unions’ grassroots political efforts in 1998, the business community is attempting to mobilize 100,000 business owners and managers to back “pro-business” congressional candidates in 2000. The Project 2000 campaign is coordinated by the Business-Industry Political Action Committee. BIPAC, whose members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Nat’l Ass’n of Manufacturers, and other major national business associations, is the nation’s oldest business PAC.

“The goal is to make American businesses more effective politically,” said Darrell Shull, the executive director of Project 2000. He said it will be the most unified business effort ever to counter the unions’ historic advantage in mobilizing voters.

Shull said that about 150 business groups will provide lists of an estimated 100,000 contacts for the effort. So far, about 20 groups are actively participating and providing lists, he said. Key contacts will be small-business owners who can communicate with their employees and others to influence them to support a pro-business candidate in a key House or Senate race, Shull indicated.

Project 2000 will provide voting records to offer a clear choice in many key races. BIPAC and the other business groups involved in the effort have tended to support Republican candidates almost exclusively, just as the unions’ efforts, headed by the AFL-CIO, have supported Democrats. Materials will be distributed over a Web site via a “Political Toolkit,” containing such items as candidate voting records that can be customized with a company logo. The Web site at http://www.poltikit.com will contain information on direct contributions, corporate contributions, independent expenditures, issue advocacy, and volunteer activity. [BNA 11/23/99]