The leaders of an influential group of rejected General Motors and Chrysler dealers are trying to thwart a bid by a fellow terminated dealer to unseat U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton.
The intriguing Ohio matchup of Republican Tom Ganley, a large Cleveland-area dealer, against Democrat Sutton, who has championed dealer interests, has attracted national media attention.
Jack Fitzgerald, Tamara Darvish and Alan Spitzer, the heads of the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights, have made financial contributions as individuals to Sutton's campaign.
Darvish and Spitzer, who describes himself as a friendly competitor of Ganley's, donated $2,400 each, the maximum allowed under law, they said.
The trio cited Sutton's leadership in pushing both the cash-for-clunkers and dealer arbitration bills through Congress.
"Betty Sutton was one of the first to stand up for rejected dealers," said Fitzgerald, a dealer in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. "Mr. Ganley didn't contribute a dime to help us."
The Committee to Restore Dealer Rights successfully lobbied Congress last year to pass legislation setting up arbitration for rejected dealers. The group is not taking a position as an organization on the Nov. 2 election.
The National Automobile Dealers Association also is neutral, having made equal $10,000 contributions to Sutton and Ganley.
Ganley has been an NADA board member since 2005. He has become a critic of the cash-for-clunkers legislation, written by Sutton, even though he sold 934 vehicles for $20.6 million under the 2009 program.
Darvish also is an NADA board member.