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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Lieberman's stealth campaign fails: union endorsement expires in August

In another blow to team Joementum, the AFL-CIO voted to endorse Joe Lieberman only for the primary. If Joe loses the primary and runs as an independent, it's back to the drawing board and the AFL-CIO will vote again between Lieberman and Lamont.

This is a huge blow for Lieberman because his campaign desperately wanted the support of the union until November (general election) and not August (primary). For Lieberman, taking the indy route will be riskier than if they had the support of the union until November.

We'll see how the mainstream media will spin this tonight.

UPDATE: Forget those mainstream guys, Paul Bass has a killer article on the affair over at The New Haven Independent.

Connecticut's labor movement goes into the Democratic primary campaign for U.S. Senate deeply divided. As expected, the state AFL-CIO endorsed Sen. Joe Lieberman for reelection at a convention at New Haven's Omni Hotel Tuesday. But in the face of vociferous opposition, it decided to limit its endorsement to the primary, not the general election, said state union chief John Olsen (pictured after the vote).

As recently as yesterday, state AFL-CIO President Olsen said he expected the organization to endorse Lieberman not just in his primary against challenger Ned Lamont, but in the general election, too - even if Lieberman loses the primary and runs as an independent.

That changed in the hours before the federation voted Tuesday afternoon. At a lunch meeting of the organization's Committee on Political Education, delegates from the machinists, teachers and auto workers' unions, who support Lamont, convinced the group to change its mind and limit the endorsement to the primary.

When it came for the voice vote in the Omni ballroom, the "aye"s to endorse Lieberman rang loud and clear. But so did the no votes.

The decision to limit the endorsement to the primary represents a victory of sorts for Lamont's challenge to the three-term incumbent. It leaves open the option that the federation could support Lamont in November against an independent Lieberman candidacy.


Judging by the applause level, Lieberman clearly had more supporters in the hall. Equally clear was the intensity of the opposition to Lieberman by a significant minority, especially among machinists and teachers. Some of the delegates who spoke for Lieberman felt the need to acknowledge the anti-Lieberman sentiment, in some cases to promise to work toward pushing Lieberman to become more responsive.

Also clear in the hall was that, contrary to the Lieberman camp's characterizations, Lieberman faces intense opposition on a host of issues, not just his leading role as a supporter for the War in Iraq. Delegates opposed to Lieberman’s endorsement spoke more about global trade pacts than about the war. "He just doesn’t seem to hear us. He always votes wrong on trade. That hurts my members," said Tammie Botelho of the United Steelworkers (pictured). State machinists President James Parent spoke of how the state has lost 7,713 aerospace manufacturing jobs since 1993, jobs that have been fleeing to low-wage Third World countries.

Parent and others criticized Lieberman for voting for, or missing votes on, every free-trade agreement that's come before the Senate. One day earlier, Lamont told the convention he'd push for better labor and environmental protections in trade agreements.

"It's up to us to make him accountable. We don’t have to be in Boston to spill the tea in Boston Bay," said William Rudis, a machinists delegate.

Other Lieberman opponents cited his support for private-school vouchers, his lack of support over the years for universal health care, his support for right-wing federal judges, his initial openness to privatizing social security.
So much for Lamont being an one-issue candidate...