Unions Cold to Democrats

Before last week’s presentation in Port Orchard by the state’s Chief Economist, Arun Raha, state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, mentioned to me his interest in what the state’s unions were planning to do. Chiefly, it appeared they were prepared to withhold endorsements from many legislators, because legislators didn’t make state employees very happy during the 2010 session.

His interest was well-founded. Instead of funneling money through the state Democratic party, the unions agreed to be more specific, which means no candidate in the 35th District gets any money. Seaquist and his Senate counterpart Derek Kilmer get no support in the 26th. In the 23rd state Rep. Christine Rolfes and state Sen. Phil Rockefeller, both Bainbridge Island Democrats, are also left off the list.

On the money list from districts in this county are state Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo and Democratic challenger to Jan Angel, Sumner Schoenike from Gig Harbor.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune has more context here and here.

The first question is how much this matters. We don’t pay attention to endorsements all that much, especially when they are so predictable from election to election. This item is newsworthy because it strays from history, but it isn’t as if the unions are endorsing Republicans.

Secondly, could this withholding amount to a perverse positive to some Democrats left out of the union money trail this year? It may seem a stretch, but could there be enough moderates out there who would actually see this as a plus, because it offers the perception that the Democrats left off the gravy train are not completely beholden to the dreaded “special interests?” Should Seaquist, Kilmer, Haigh and Finn actually write “thank you” notes to the unions?

Were I a spinmeister I would probably try to help find a way to sell this as kind of good news. I wouldn’t put “Not endorsed by the unions” on my campaign literature, but I might talk about how sad it is to not get the endorsement but aw shucks the 2010 session sure required some tough choices and we couldn’t make everyone happy, not even ones who have consistently written us checks.

6 thoughts on “Unions Cold to Democrats

  1. Of course they should write thank you notes (or at least give a verbal thanks). In the current political environment a lack of endorsement by the state employees’ unions is far more valuable than the cash.

    It is the few who remain on the list who should be chagrined. Now they stand out even from their party colleagues.

    I don’t suppose the unions will refund the leftover cash to their members…

  2. No one should be surprised by the Unions action to not endorse those who vote against their interests, just like business lobbies, environmentalists, etc.

    The relevant issue is will it make a difference. I tend to think overall it may hurt the unions, especially if anti-union republicans beat the democrat the union decides to not endorse. These so-called “Roadkill Caucus” democrats represents about 25% of the elected representatives and senators in the democrat controlled legislature. That’s a significant number and in this dicey election season with some heated voter agnst, the democrats are likely to lose some seats. We’ll see if roadkill democrats can survive without one of the parties influences, and conversely, if labor endorsed candidates survive and hold seats.

  3. Steve I actually once ran for school board and actually had I am not endorsed by the Teachers Union on my campaign literature . I lost.

  4. The unoins are not all Democrat run. The local Painters Union recently voted in a Republican President, one who is actively involved with getting Burlingame elected.

  5. Another point not raised, concerns that Unions like business have lost membership through lay offs and company closure. Their membership will decline as does their member subs. I expect too that some of the more *fiscal* minded conservative Democrats have been singled out for lost union support. Those Dems who where unhappy with the State tax and expenditure hike in this years marathon session budget.

    I don’t expect there to be much difference come November between those Dems that are union endorsed, like Sherry Appleton, (D) Poulsbo and those that will have no union support. In fact some Dems who argue fiscal restraint probably stand a better chance of re-election than those who get union support. Whatever happens Washington State remains very much one party, but with a under current of anti incumbent feeling among the voters, my money will be on seeing more Republicans elected in both Senate and House. Whether the Democrat be union supported or not.

  6. “Another point not raised, concerns that Unions like business have lost membership through lay offs and company closure.”

    Mighty Beaver the reason I disagree with you is the area we live . It is heavily employed by government. For instance the largest employer in the North kitsap area is actually the school district . You have the Navy Yard, County employees , etc . The republicans really need to stop attacking Unions and attack the ideas of the political leftists who often find their way to run some Unions .

    The military who usually vote republican but many military vote in their own state. I believe you will see more republicans elected , but I don’t think in Kitsap .

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