Big business takes on tea party, gently


Anna Palmer,  POLITICO

Big Business swore this would be the year it would wrestle back the soul of the Republican Party from the grip of the tea party.

No more Todd Akins. No more government shutdowns. And no more third-party groups running roughshod over the Washington agenda.

But with primary season looming, the big threats from Big Business appear to be just that.

“They can turn, but they can’t turn quickly,” explained veteran K Streeter Denise Bode, who said business is like an aircraft carrier. “The business community, in general, tends to not make big shifts.”

Business isn’t taking on sitting lawmakers responsible for grinding legislative business to a halt on Capitol Hill. It isn’t backing many candidates early. And it hasn’t cowed conservative groups fueling challenges to incumbent senators.

The result: Tea party groups are launching rebel campaigns nearly unchallenged by the big money of corporate America. A new breed of conservative is marching up to Congress who doesn’t much care that the Republican Party is supposed to be the party of Big Business.

Take the primary race between tea partier Rep. Justin Amash and pro-business challenger Brian Ellis. Ellis isn’t getting much help from industry donors, even though Amash would be a great candidate to defeat, sending a message to the insurgent wing of that party that business means business.

In interviews, more than a dozen Republican lobbyists and operatives said they think business is missing a crucial moment to course correct the Republican Party and make a dent in the Washington gridlock.

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