Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Union's non-choice is loss for Edwards, gain for Obama "

Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times):
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- After an eight-hour board meeting in Chicago on Monday, the executive board of the Service Employees International Union decided not to endorse for now in the Democratic primary. The executive board will revisit an endorsement on Oct. 8, after the third-quarter fund-raising totals are in.
This is a big setback for White House hopeful former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), who has been working the SEIU leaders (first, second and third tier) for years. This is very good news for rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who now has bought time to persuade SEIU leaders that he is the most politically viable contender.

I'm told the leaders of the SEIU -- one of the most politically active unions in the nation -- want to make an endorsement. And there are elements within the leadership who want to stop Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is the frontrunner in most polls -- national and in the four early primary states.

I'm told the executive board never even took a vote. That's all bad news for the Edwards forces, who hoped to lock in the SEIU endorsement last week, after the top Dem contenders addressed their political conference in Washington. But SEIU chief Andy Stern and SEIU chief politico Anna Burger said the executive board needed to hear more from the top strategists for the campaigns. Team Obama sent strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe.

Obama delivered a stemwinder last week at the conference. I wrote last week he faced an uphill battle getting the union's backing. By slowing down the process on Monday, he's leveling the hill.

Presumably, Obama will have a strong third-quarter fund-raising showing. The books close Sept. 30 and Edwards will be lucky to have $8 million. Obama and Clinton should be reporting at least $20 million in third-quarter results.

Today, Change-to-Win, a labor federation of which the SEIU is a member, meets in Chicago. No endorsement is expected.

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