Labor Council sends message to Democrats
THE NEWS TRIBUNE
The State Labor Council was stingy with its first round of endorsements, snubbing many Democrats, particularly two groups of incumbents: leaders of the state Legislature’s Democratic caucuses, like House Speaker Frank Chopp, Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Dawn Morrell, and moderate/conservative Democrats, like Sen. Chris Marr, Sen. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Larry Seaquist.
The first group had led a budget-balancing effort that included layoffs and furloughs, leaving state employees cold, a year after the same leaders got into a public tiff with unions. The second group was blasted by the Labor Council’s leader for standing in the way of progressive changes this year and generally being “pro-corporate, anti-government.”
The snubs aimed to fulfill the promise of the council’s new political committee, called Don’t Invest in More Excuses (DIME), to funnel money to labor’s champions instead of all Democrats.
But the real test was whether the labor coalition would hold its ground Wednesday, when it voted on a second round of endorsed candidates.
Did it? Not really. Chopp, Murray, Morrell, Marr, Kilmer and Seaquist are among those endorsed last week by delegates at their convention in Tacoma, nearly doubling the council’s list of incumbent endorsements. Other Democrats, like Sen. Tracey Eide, Rep. Jeannie Darneille and Rep. Christopher Hurst, still weren’t endorsed against their Republican opponents.
Labor Council President Rick Bender says the council got its message across to Democrats – “that you can’t take us for granted” – with its first round of endorsements. But it didn’t want to go so far as to hand Republicans a chance at taking over the Legislature, he said.
The Federation of State Employees, which blocked endorsements for dozens of incumbents the first go-around, has dropped its opposition to many of them. Not that the council was united on all the endorsements. The debate over Chopp was particularly heated, members said. And Bender said he would have preferred some Roadkill Caucus incumbents, like Seaquist and Marr, weren’t endorsed.
An endorsement doesn’t mean a candidate will get all the help the union can give, including money from the DIME PAC, mailers and doorbelling.
“A number of those candidates probably will not get our full package,” Bender said.
Here are some of the 30 endorsements relevant to the South Sound, all Democrats:
Denny Heck for the U.S. House’s 3rd District.
Challenger Marilyn Rasmussen for state House in the 2nd District.
State Rep. Steve Kirby for re-election in the 29th District.
State Sen. Claudia Kauffman for re-election in the 47th District.
Democrat Jake Fey for an open 27th District state House seat.
The council also voted to oppose state Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson, but not to support his challenger Stan Rumbaugh.
Jordan Schrader, staff writer