Signs of the Republican Party rift between business and the Tea Party are showing up where Democrats most want to see them: in the campaign account of Michelle Nunn, daughter of four-term Georgia Senator Sam Nunn.
“The vast majority of Americans say they don’t want the government to shut down, they want middle ground,” said John Wieland, founder of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods Inc., who together with his wife penned checks totaling $10,400 to Nunn’s Democratic U.S. Senate bid. In the 2010 midterms, the Wielands each gave $4,800 to the Republican Senate candidate.
“Michelle understands that middle ground, and that’s why we wrote the checks,” Wieland said.
It’s a sentiment shared by some business donors from Virginia to Arkansas, and one Democrats want to spread as the parties vie for control of the Senate in the 2014 midterms.
Nunn, 46, is running for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss, and her opponent has yet to be determined. Eight Republicans are competing in a June 3 primary, including three U.S. House members who supported the ill-fated plan to link defunding Obamacare to lifting the debt ceiling and passing a government spending bill. Their efforts led to a 16-day shutdown that Standard & Poor’s estimated cost the U.S. economy $24 billion.
In addition to Wieland, Nunn’s donors include Jim Cox Kennedy, the chairman of Atlanta-based communications company Cox Enterprises Inc., who contributed $2,600 to her candidacy, after giving $30,800 to the Republican National Committee and $5,000 to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
She’s also got support from Tom Cousins, former chief executive officer of Cousins Properties Inc. (CUZ) and a developer who helped shape downtown Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s, who has given her $5,200. Cousins donated $50,800 to the RNC and $5,000 to Romney. Both Kennedy and Cousins declined to comment on their donations.
The financial push-back by the business community against the small-government Tea Party movement extends to Virginia, where Republican businessmen are cutting checks and commercials to support Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race rather than state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican Tea-Party favorite.
In Arkansas, Democratic Senator Mark Pryor is facing U.S. Representative Tom Cotton, a House Republican who voted against opening the government and a five-year farm bill. Pryor is highlighting both votes to draw donations from the agriculture community and other boardrooms.
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