U.S. Chamber Picks Rare Democrat in California House Race

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent much of the 2014 election campaign defending Republican allies against Tea Party challengers, is coming to the aid of a vulnerable U.S. House Democrat.

The nation’s biggest business federation is endorsing freshman Representative Scott Peters of California, who’s in a tough fight to win re-election in the 52nd District in and around San Diego.

Peters sided with the Chamber 69 percent of the time on key votes in 2013, one of the highest scores for a Democrat, according to the chamber’s scorecard.

“Your record of support on pro-business issues earned this endorsement,” Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said in a letter to Peters dated Aug. 29 and posted on the website of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. The chamber didn’t immediately return a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

Peters in July 2013 supported the chamber and voted with Republicans on a bill that would have delayed for one year the 2010 health-care law’s requirement that individuals purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

The chamber usually endorses Republicans in federal elections, though it also backs a few Democrats every election cycle to provide it some bipartisan credentials.

Republican Opponent

Peters is opposed in the Nov. 4 election by Republican Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego councilman, in a district that’s about evenly divided between the two parties. In the June primary, Republican candidates for governor won 49 percent of the district vote compared with 48.5 percent for Democratic candidates led by Governor Jerry Brown, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Peters-DeMaio race is among just 16 House contests out of 435 nationwide that the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates as a tossup.

It’s not clear if the Chamber will back up its endorsement of Peters with paid television advertising. The business group has run broadcast television spots in 23 House and Senate races in the 2014 election, all on behalf of Republicans, according to New York-based Kantar Media’s CMAG, an ad tracker.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.