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Trucking’s election contributions lowest since 2010, biggest recipients see mixed results

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Updated Nov 15, 2018

Editor’s note: The latest results in the race between Rep. Jeff Denham and his challenger, Josh Harder, show that Harder has beaten Denham in the House’s 10th District race. At the time this story was written, Denham still held a lead over Harder and appeared to be the victor. Read the latest on this election at this link.

The trucking industry contributed $5.79 million to election campaigns for the 2018 midterm cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, with industry donations heavily favoring Republican candidates. However, a few of the top benefactors of trucking contributions lost their bids for re-election.

The top recipient of trucking-contributed campaign dollars, incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham in California’s 10th Congressional district, appears to have barely edged his opponent, though the race hasn’t officially been decided and Denham’s Democratic opponent Josh Harder has yet to concede.

Other top recipients include Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), who won his re-election bid; Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nevada), who lost to Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen; Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who won Tennessee’s open Senate seat; and Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania), who lost his seat to Democratic challenger Bob Casey.

Democrats on Tuesday were able to flip the U.S. House and gain a majority in Congress’ lower chamber, meaning leadership positions, such as those on the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its subcommittees, will transition to Democratic representatives.

Meanwhile, Republicans will likely increase their two-seat advantage in the Senate. Though some races are still too close to call, Republicans were able to flip a few Democratic-held seats and retain seats already held.

According to CRP data, this is the fourteenth election cycle in a row that trucking contributions favored Republicans, dating back to the 1992 presidential election.

This cycle, trucking industry donations to Republican candidates totaled $4.22 million, while donations to Democrats was $835,851 — an 83 percent to 16 percent split.

While those percentages are in line with trucking contributions from recent election cycles, total spending dipped to its lowest point since the 2010 midterms, despite this year’s cycle being one of the most expensive in history.

The $5.79 million lags behind 2016’s $8.63 million, 2014’s $8.09 million and 2012’s $10.66 million. Contributions in 2010 were $4.93 million and $5.96 million in 2008.

Denham received $104,000 from the trucking industry, according to data from CRP. Denham has been a strong proponent of initiatives by the American Trucking Associations and other trucking groups to assert federal trucking regs over those enacted at the state level, such as break law requirements enacted in Denham’s home state of California.

ATA was again the industry’s largest contributor, donating $645,768 to campaigns this cycle, according to CRP data. Nearly 67 percent of those contributions went to Republicans.

Prime Inc. was the next largest contributor, donating $449,074, with nearly all of it — 98.1 percent — going to Republican candidates, according to CRP data.

Centra Inc. contributed just shy of $400,000, with nearly 98 percent going to Republicans. Werner donated $310,369 this cycle, with 80 percent going to Republicans. Paccar Inc., maker of Peterbilt and Kenworth brands, donated $154,746, with nearly 98 percent going to Republicans.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association made $152,000 in contributions, with 72 percent favoring Republicans and 28 percent going to Democrats.

Other top trucking contributors include Old Dominion Freight Line, the National Tank Truck Carriers group, Schneider National, Knight-Swift Transportation, Fitzgerald Peterbilt, Crete Carrier, the Truck Rental & Leasing Association and Navistar International.