Political donors bet on Whitehead

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WASHINGTON - Forgive Paul Broun if he's grinning as lobbyists and business leaders stop by his new Capitol Hill office in the coming weeks to welcome him to Washington.

Paul Broun: New congressman  received no funding from political action committees in his run for the House.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Paul Broun: New congressman received no funding from political action committees in his run for the House.

It's the same crowd that essentially ignored the new congressman during his campaign. When Dr. Broun upended conventional wisdom and beat former Republican state Sen. Jim Whitehead by a few hundred votes last month, no one was more surprised than they were.

The proof is in their campaign contributions.

Dr. Broun, a Republican from Athens, didn't get a dime from industry-backed political action committees, not even from the trade groups representing his medical profession.

Mr. Whitehead, meanwhile, raked in more than $175,000 from PACs, including from Georgia companies such as UPS Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. and from national groups such as the American Bankers Association, the American Association of Orthodontists and the U.S. Telecom Association.

"What we know about PACs is they like to bet on winners. It tells us that like everybody else they thought that Whitehead had it sewn up," said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political scientist.

Many of the groups did not respond to phone calls this week about their giving. Those who did said they still hope to have a good relationship with Dr. Broun.

"We establish relationships with members of Congress above and beyond PAC dollars." said Malcolm Berkley, a spokesman for UPS, whose group gave Mr. Whitehead $5,000.

Mr. Berkley said he didn't know whether the company would donate to Dr. Broun in the future.

Dr. Broun said he won't hold any grudges; he might need the groups' support soon.

"I'm in a little different position now than I was before, so hopefully people will take me a little more seriously," he said. "My vote can't be bought by anybody, but I'll be glad to have anybody come by."

Mr. Bullock and Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, said just how much the groups give Dr. Broun in the coming months will say a lot about how long they think he will be in office. "One of the things that groups who bet on the wrong horse will do is try to quickly get on the right side, so you may be seeing some of that," Mr. Bullock said. On the other hand, he said, they might hold back, signaling that they see his grip on the office as "tenuous."

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rbk 08/11/07 - 08:27 am
I'm glad I didn't listen to

I'm glad I didn't listen to friends & relatives that told me not to vote for Dr. Broun because they said he didn't stand a chance. If everyone else that voted for him had listened to that kind of logic, he wouldn't be there now. I don't know if Mr. Whitehead would have felt obligated to honor requests from the PAC group or not, but we know Mr. Broun won't have to face that decision. I don't know Dr. Broun personally, but I liked what he had to say in his campaign literature and I hope he will stick to it.

Augustaleadership 08/11/07 - 10:00 am
Barry Fleming needs to "stay

Barry Fleming needs to "stay put" as the majority Whip in the GA House. Speaker Richardson is damaged goods and it is only a matter of time before he steps down or is forced to step down...then Barry Fleming may become the Speaker of the House--one of the most powerful men in Georgia. Instead, he is considering going to Washington to be a nobody for the minority. This doesn't make sense for Augusta at this time.

Brad Owens
Brad Owens 08/11/07 - 05:06 pm
I voted for Dr. Broun in the

I voted for Dr. Broun in the runoff. I am glad to see that the PAC money went to someone else. Restores my faith in the electoral process. BUT, I can assure you that he will be the one who gets the money in the next round. That UPS guy is full of BS talking about how he 'doesn't know if they will give to him' in the future. Yeah, RIGHT!

eschamb 08/11/07 - 06:56 pm
This should get more people

This should get more people to come forward and try the political arena.

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