Thursday, June 01, 2006

Union for Webb in primary race

The official campaign site for Jim Webb is announcing that the Laborers’ International Union of North America, a half-million-member-strong breakaway from the AFL-CIO, has endorsed Webb in his bid to win the Democrat’s senatorial primary in Virginia.

Webb and Harris Miller are vying for the opportunity to carry the flag for Team Donkey against Republican incumbent Sen. George Allen in the November general election.

OK, this event may not matter. I can’t say I know a lot about how much clout such an organization might have in 2006 with the sort of Virginian who will be taking the time to vote on June 13th, rather than watch a ballgame on cable TV, or shop at the mall, or do what they do to earn a living.

Or, it may be quite significant.

An endorsement from a big labor union is different from an endorsement from a politician. I’m not saying union bosses have all the influence they did 40 or 50 years ago. What I am saying is that endorsements from most other pols hardly mean anything in today’s game.

Since America went wild for the primary system in the ‘70s, sold to us as being more "inclusive," fundraising has trumped the once time honored endorsement system to a great extent. Of course an endorsement from a well known person helps. But in the days of conventions rather than primaries, endorsements from big political players were huge. They sent signals down the line for each precinct boss and block captain. Now people pull the curtain in private and do as they please, if they vote at all.

Anyway, watered down clout or not, an endorsement from LIUNA, sets two things in motion that could suddenly fill Webb’s sails with a gust of momentum.

One: It shines a light on a personality that should play well to blue collar voters. No doubt, Webb’s potential as a populist with sizzle requires this element. Ever since the Vietnam War the Democrats have been feeling the loss of the rank-and-file support of working men and women, who were Democrats until they started seeing Dems as wusses.

Webb, a legit warrior from the Vietnam War, may be just the man to bring them back to the party of FDR and JFK. No one is likely to ever see Webb as a wuss.

Two: It underlines a problem that Miller has with labor, a cog in the party's machinery. He has been sold, so far by his PR squad, as the man who has the lion’s share of the traditional Democratic players on his bandwagon. Yet, as a businessman/lobbyist who is seen by some as an advocate of the exporting of jobs, he's vulnerable in this area. Clearly, Miller's somewhat contrived image as the quintessential Democrat is not helped by this labor endorsement.

If the LIUNA endorsement is followed by them putting their best people to work in Webb’s campaign, then other union endorsements, maybe some cash, Miller will have a hard time explaining all that away to people who wonder how a Democrat can defeat George Allen without the enthusiastic support of labor.

Is more labor support on the way? The next few days will tell.

However, as I’ve chided some on the Webb team in the last week over what I have seen as their exaggeration of the importance of their man’s list of endorsements by individuals, and perhaps a few other matters, now I must congratulate them for what may well be a real coup.


Anonymous said...


"U.S. Senate Candidate Harris Miller today announced that he has received the endorsements of four Virginia locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: Local 666, Local 1340, Local 80, and Statewide Local 50.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents approximately 750,000 members who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government.

In addition to these endorsements, the Miller for Senate campaign is proud to have received support from the United Transportation Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters."

Yeah, Miller is really without any labor support. Do you actually do research about your topics anymore or you just shoot off the cuff?

thegools said...

Why do so many Miller fans (staff), and Webb detractors not use some sort of blog name to enable everyone to identify them?

And when they do use blog names, why do they constantly change? (T. Paine and Alice M. excepted.)

Anonymous said...

Miller also got another endorsement. This time from the Washington Post.

I was at the "Women for Miller" luncheon yesterday in Arlington. I cannot begin to describe what a spectacular event that was. There were about 150-160, the place was packed! Kate Michelman introduced Harris Miller. Harris gave a terrific speech, and all of us walked out of there with our sleeves rolled up and ready to campaign hard for Harris in these final days before the primary.

I spoke with women democratic leaders who were from Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, Richmond, and Hampton Roads who were impressed, motivated, and determined to beat Webb on June 13th and Allen on November 7th.

Anonymous said...

Kirk g,

Because of the few rabid Webb supporters.

Any difference of opinion with Webb is met with hostile, personal attacks.

So it is just better to post anonymous to, at least, post a different perspective.

F.T. Rea said...

anonymous (the first one),

Actually, I did notice those same endorsements from labor for Miller. However, my analysis wasn't a comprehensive report about labor unions and their various endorsements. It was a short post about one union’s move and what it could mean. Since that union is also making news with its breakaway from the AFL-CIO, I found it more interesting.

Please note, I make no claim at SLANTblog to present an artificially "fair and balanced" product. When I started SLANT 21 years ago the name I gave it was an attempt to inform the reader of the nature of its contents. Since then I have tied to present commentary in SLANT/SLANTblog that is honestly my own, and is honest. And, I don’t write only about politics.

Back to the primary race at hand -- I’ve made no secret of my preference for Webb. Yet, I’ve written some things that have inflamed his blog readers, too. Apparently, some of both candidates supporters think I’m being "unfair" if I don’t obediently cut and paste the propaganda their camps issue. Sorry kids, that’s not going to happen.

All that said, my sense is that Miller is going to be far less appealing to the actual members of labor unions than Webb, if they pay attention to the race at all. Miller seems to be offering Virginia’s workers little but a vague image of him as a traditional Democrat. Whereas, Webb appears have some genuine empathy for the steady loss of dignity many union families have been suffering in the modern scheme of things.

Sorry, that’s how I see it. Thanks for commenting.