The 9th Soul

More executives sold on Obama

Posted in politics, Random by Fated Blue on October 28, 2008
 Dan Cooper, a proud member of the National Rifle Association, has backed Republicans for most of his life. He’s the chief executive of Cooper Arms, a small Montana company that makes hunting rifles.

Cooper said he voted for George W. Bush in 2000, having voted in past elections for every Republican presidential nominee back to Richard Nixon. In October 1992, he presented a specially made rifle to the first President. Bush during a Billings campaign event.

This year, Cooper has given $3,300 to the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama. That’s on top of the $1,000 check he wrote to Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2004, after he was dazzled by Obama’s speech at that year’s Democratic National Convention.


Cooper is a player in one of the little-told dramas of the 2008 presidential campaign: how Obama has been able to out-raise Republican John McCain among swaths of the business community, outperforming previous Democratic presidential nominees in drawing business support.
Cooper changed sides, he said, “probably because of the war. And also because the Republican Party has moved so far right in recent years.”

He also likes Obama’s message about “the retooling of America, which involves the building of middle-class jobs and helping American small business be competitive with those overseas.”

In 2000 and again in 2004, George W. Bush out-raised his Democratic rival among employees and executives of nearly every business sector, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which codes contributors by occupation.

In this election, however, Obama has bested McCain among employees and executives in finance, insurance and real estate; health; communications; law; and “miscellaneous business,” according to the center’s tally of contributions through August.

McCain has maintained the traditional Republican lead in transportation, construction, defense, energy and agribusiness.

In the miscellaneous business sector — which includes retail, service industries and many small enterprises — Bush out-raised Democrat John Kerry, $20.6 million to $14.8 million in 2004. Obama has taken in $20.5 million from that sector to McCain’s $13.4 million, records show. Those numbers don’t include September and October, when Obama was raising tens of millions but McCain’s campaign was not taking private donations. McCain accepted $84 million in public financing while Obama opted out of the federal system.

Obama has taken in twice as much as McCain from employees of pharmaceutical and related companies, the center found. And Obama has raised $5.1 million from workers at computer and Internet companies, compared with McCain’s $1.3 million.

Among Obama’s contributors, 5,845 list “CEO” or “chief executive” in their title, compared with 2,597 of McCain’s donors, according to election records compiled by CQ MoneyLine. In the 2003-04 cycle, 3,567 of Bush’s donors were listed that way, compared with 1,686 for Kerry.

“I guess he can’t accuse us of being the candidate of big business,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said. He noted that some Democrats are raising money for McCain, and he criticized Obama for forgoing public financing.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt noted that unlike Obama, McCain accepts money from federal lobbyists.

“Our campaign has been funded by more than 3.1 million Americans who gave an average of $86,” he said.

Mary Kay Cashman runs a Caterpillar franchise in Nevada. She has given $68,600 to Republican candidates over the years, including $2,000 to Bush in 2003. This year, she changed her registration to Democrat to caucus for Obama in the Nevada primary.

“There’s an abundant amount of evidence that the status quo isn’t working and the direction needs to be changed,” she said. Asked why she didn’t support Democrat Al Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004, she said, “There are personality traits that are required in a leader, and neither Gore nor Kerry had those.”

Bill Struve runs a small business in Wilmington, N.C., that develops metal clay, which is used in making jewelry. He said the only time he hasn’t backed a Republican for president is when he cast a vote for independent Ross Perot in 1992. He has given Obama $2,300 this year. “The Republicans have … lost their footing on economics,” he said.

Bob Clark of Missouri and Victor Hammel of Pennsylvania are CEOs of large businesses who tend to back Democrats but also donate to Republicans. Clark runs Clayco, a St. Louis real estate development firm. Hammel leads J.C. Ehrlich, a pest-control company based in Reading, Pa..

They are the types McCain had hoped to attract. Instead, Clark, who raised thousands for Bush in 2000, has raised more than $500,000 for Obama. And Hammel, who regularly gives money to Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, has donated $2,300 to Obama.

“Barack is definitely more liberal than I am,” Clark said. “But I’m willing to compromise on some of those issues for what I think is the greater good.”

Hammel said, “I would rather pay a little higher tax on a higher profit than a lower tax rate on lower profits.”

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