Thursday, December 3, 2015

Van Hollen Gets Important Backing From SEIU // One Union Says Edwards "Has Turned Her Back Toward Labor"

Today, at an announcement at in Baltimore, Representative Chris Van Hollen will accept the endorsement Maryland’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) locals, including 1199, 32BJ, Local 500, Local 400, NAGE and Local 722. This is the biggest endorsement to date for Van Hollen and a body blow to Congresswoman Donna Edwards, who many originally expected to win the strong backing from organized labor.
BALTIMORE SUN: Van Hollen "has a record of standing with labor and workers," said Ricarra Jones, with 1199 SEIU. "We're going to go with a person who is going to best represent our interests in the Senate."
WASHINGTON POST: We feel like she has turned her back toward labor,” said Ricarra Jones, political organizer for Local 1199, the largest SEIU chapter in Maryland, which has about 9,000 members. “We think that Van Hollen will do a much better job.”
PAINT THE STATE PURPLE: The Maryland SEIU locals represent nearly 45,000 members, and their endorsement ensures the Van Hollen campaign will receive significant union support, including member-volunteers who will knock on doors and make phone calls in Baltimore City and other key Democratic jurisdictions.

Relaxed campaign finance rules post Citizens United not only allows SEIU to spend more heavily on advertising but also to ramp up voter contact efforts to non-union workers. In 2012, SEIU was the top outside spending on Democratic campaigns - spending $70 million on donations, television ads and GOTV.

SEIU has increasingly played a very active role in many important elections and legislative battles through both member outreach and paid media efforts. In 2014, SEIU backed and invested heavily in Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and more than 80 other candidates in the Democratic primary. The vast majority of these endorsed candidates prevailed.

Nationally, the 2 million member SEIU - the fastest growing union in the United States - endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Notably, SEIU has supported and increased awareness of the ‘Fight for $15’ campaign, and has successfully persuaded local leaders in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

DISAPPOINTING FOR DONNA: Labor in the past has strongly supported Edwards, which likely makes today’s endorsement that much more painful. SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) strongly supported her bid to unseat Rep. Al Wynn in 2008 - spending more than $1 million on her successful campaign. Unions also circled the wagons and effectively scared Glenn Ivey into dropping a primary challenge in 2012.

Earlier this year observers thought Edwards had the inside track with labor, and would earn the financial and organizational resources to make up for Van Hollen’s fundraising edge. Instead, Van Hollen and Edwards have traded endorsements and the AFL-CIO declined to choose sides.

It is unlikely that any union that currently supports Edwards can match the resources SEIU can bring to bear. 

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