Insurer Funds Business PAC Supporting Calif. GOP Insurance Commissioner Candidate, Other Health Politics

A California Chamber of Commerce political action committee bankrolled in part by insurance companies is funding TV ads supporting Republican Mike Villines in his quest to become state insurance commissioner, the Los Angeles Times reports. Villines is running against Democrat Dave Jones. "In campaign finance disclosure documents, the deep-pocketed chamber reported that it was spending $280,234 to fund 'media production' for television advertisements that oppose Jones. The same report showed that the chamber's political action committee, called JobsPAC, received six contributions from insurance company interests totaling $387,000. The two largest were $225,000 from George Joseph, chairman of Mercury General Corp., and $90,000 from Progressive Corp." Both candidates have pledged not to take donations from insurance companies, but California election law says insurers and anyone else "legally can contribute to so-called independent expenditures favoring or opposing a candidate. The only restriction is that they not be coordinated with the favored candidate's campaign" (Lifsher, 10/7).

Politico: In the meantime, a "slate of Republican doctors seeking House seats is benefiting from a group of deep-pocketed medical groups that are funneling thousands of dollars to their campaigns and providing support on the airwaves. Organizations like the American College of Surgeons Professional Association, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Congress of OB-GYNs are putting their respective political action committees to work for Republican contenders and medical professionals like Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Nan Hayworth of New York and Joe Heck of Nevada." The groups, say some, want to establish relationships with key lawmakers likely to land on health-related committees (Isenstadt, 10/6).

The New York Times: "Republicans have won points with many voters by promising a conservative overhaul of taxes and spending, but Democrats are working hard in the closing weeks of the campaign to convince voters that a conservative social agenda is waiting in the wings, too, should Republicans be elected in large numbers. Abortion rights is the flash point, being wielded by the left in hard-fought races from New York’s contest for governor, to Senate races in Florida and California" (Johnson, 10/6).

Meanwhile, Politico reports: "Abortion is an "essential" issue for midterm election voters, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin declared Tuesday" (Barr, 10/6).

In Colorado, The Associated Press reports that the GOP is targeting Democrats there as a way to gain seats in Congress, the Senate and perhaps even the White House. "Shadowy out-of-state interest groups have been flooding Colorado with a level of advertising that goes well beyond the typical election year bombardment. Colorado has become such an attractive destination for outside political money this year because of the state's bellwether status, its many competitive races and its relatively cheap media rates. The top target is the Senate contest between (Democratic Sen. Michael) Bennet and (Republican Ken) Buck, a race that could help determine the control of Congress. Competitive House races in the state have also been affected by the spending." Outside groups are spending millions in the race (Wyatt, 10/7).

The Associated Press/The Boston Globe reports that New Hampshire's Democratic candidate for Senate, Paul Hodes, has called his Republican rival hypocritical for attacking health reforms that give coverage to the uninsured. "Hodes pointed out Wednesday that former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte enjoyed the benefits of taxpayer subsidized health care as a state employee, but doesn't support similar coverage for others. Ayotte argues the health care law pushed through Congress by Democrats should be repealed. She believes the private market should be in charge, not government" (Love, 10/6).

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