Thursday, November 4, 2010

U.S. Forest Products Industry Backed The Wrong Horses in Tuesday’s Election

Democratic Congress members who received significant financial backing from the forest products industry fared poorly in Tuesday’s elections, according to a published analysis.

The industry’s favorite candidate, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-AR, lost her re-election bid, as did three of the other eight Democrats who had received at least $20,000 in contributions from the industry as of Oct. 15, according to U.S. News & World Report. Another top recipient, Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA ($40,682), is clinging to a slim lead with votes still being counted.

The industry’s $1.89 million in donations slightly favored Democratic incumbents, with contributions averaging $5,611 per Democrat versus $5,394 for Republicans, according to U.S. News’ Congress Tracker web site, which is based on reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The site does not report on contributions to non-incumbents.

Lincoln’s haul of $149,750 from the industry was nearly three times greater than that of any other candidate, according to Congress Tracker, but her Republican challenger nevertheless trounced her. Other favorites of the forest-products industry who lost were Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID, $38,350), Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA, $24,717) and Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS, $20,000).

Not surprisingly, all of the Republican incumbents who received significant backing from the industry won re-election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ($25,200), a former Republican waging an independent write-in campaign, seems likely to win, though that race has not been decided.

U.S. News notes that its data is based on “a compilation of contributions from the organization’s PACs . . ., employees, or immediate family members of employees” because the companies themselves generally don't contribute directly to campaigns. Of the industry’s top 25 recipients, five were from Washington, three from Oregon, and two each from Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, and Alabama – all of which have a significant industry presence.

The forest-products industry – which includes companies involved in timber, paper, pulp, and packaging – was not even among the top-50 industries donating to incumbents’ Congressional campaigns, according to Congress Tracker.

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