In the wake of Blanche Lincoln’s surprise victory in the runoff election for the Democratic nomination of Arkansas’ Senate seat, top officials in the White House and Senate derided labor unions as “absolute idiots,” and “Washington special interests” who “flushed $10 million down the toilet” for supporting challenger Bill Halter. DSCC Chair Bob Menendez even had the gall to say he expects labor’s “support, you know, financially” in “all of our races across the country.”
It seems Menendez will get his wish. Sam Stein reports that labor unions plan to step up – you know, financially – for Democratic candidates across the country in 2010 to help stem the tide of a massive influx of corporate cash this cycle.
The major unions are pledging massive resources for the 2010 elections. To this point, they’ve outspent corporate groups. But their priorities aren’t necessarily in line with the campaign committees and the White House. And in interviews with the Huffington Post, top officials held no illusions that they can go cent-for-cent with the Chamber, let alone the nine other Republican-leaning groups.
“Typically, labor unions are outspent by corps around 3 to 1 on elections,” said the SEIU’s national political director Jon Youngdahl. “We fear that due to Citizens United [the Supreme Court case allowing unlimited spending on campaigns] those numbers are only going to grow. I fear these are the first signs of that growth.”
“Will the labor movement be able to match corporate money? No. We never have been and never will,” said Karen Ackerman, political director of the AFL-CIO. “But that is not the strength of the labor movement. Our greatest strength is union members and their families.”
What will it take for unions to stop contributing to the very people working against their priorities? I understand, as Karen Ackerman suggests, that it’s better for unions to protect their workers by supporting the party that is more inclined to support their interests than the Republicans. But by continuing to give to Democrats who clearly don’t respect the views of labor, it will only be more difficult for working people to get any satisfaction from their elected officials.
UPDATE: AFL-CIO spokesperson Eddie Vale clarifies in the comments: the labor federation won’t take cues from the DSCC, and will instead invest in races that matter to them:
But we aren’t taking a list of races to invest in from DCCC and DSCC. We’re going to take our pot of money and divide it up among the races WE want to play in, not ALL races.