Whether or not Sen. Mark Pryor will get the backing of Arkansas' Christian community in his 2014 re-election bid remains to be seen, but he is getting some help from the digital community.
The Arkansas Democrat caught fire from critics for a recent campaign ad in which he clutches a Bible in the hopes of convincing voters of his Christian values. But in what promises to be a tough race to hold on to his Senate seat, the moderate Democrat has already convinced the Interactive Advertising Bureau that they share common goals.
"We are all in for Sen. Mark Pryor this year," said Mike Zaneis, senior VP and general counsel of the IAB, who spends much of his time pushing the IAB's agenda on Capitol Hill. The IAB's political action committee gave $2,000 to Sen. Pryor's campaign in January. Sen. Pryor chairs the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet and sits on the Senate Commerce Committee and its Consumer Protection Subcommittee, all places that have been home to discussions on digital advertising and privacy issues and related preliminary legislation.
Mr. Zaneis also mentioned Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia who is running for reelection in 2014, as one the group will watch. Sen. Warner has received IAB PAC funds in previous years and has a Commerce Committee seat.
Republicans often side with the IAB's stances on issues like sweeping privacy legislation, which the IAB has largely opposed. And they get their share of the IAB pie. But the group wants to ensure that Democrats on key committees who tend to support technology businesses stay in office.
"Having those types of Democratic members, especially on the Commerce Committee, is really important," said Mr. Zaneis.
He pointed to Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill as a "Democratic champion" for issues important to the digital ad industry. Not up for reelection this time around, Sen. McCaskill, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, saw no IAB PAC money this year. Mr. Zaneis compared her to Sen. Pryor, suggesting that while he is not quite the "champion" she is, "He is just as thoughtful and engaged."
The IAB didn't forget its Republican friends in the Senate with key Committee assignments. Senator Sam Graves of Missouri, up for reelection in 2014, chairs the House Committee on Small Business and received $750 from the IAB in July. The organization often uses the plight of small web publishers to illuminate the potential impact of various regulatory and legislative rules on mom-and-pop businesses. This year the IAB held its fifth-annual Long Tail Alliance Fly-in in June, during which more than 50 small digital publishing business representatives visited with 27 House and nine Senate offices.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who sits on the Commerce Committee, as well as the Technology and the Internet and Consumer Protection Subcommittees, got $1,000 from the IAB PAC in February. The group also backed Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with a $1,000 contribution to his campaign in May.
For now, the IAB has its sights set on important Senate races which are more defined at this stage than the House midterm elections, said Mr. Zaneis. "Priority number one is on the Senate right now," he said. "It's kind of too early to really predict key House races."
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