AFL-CIO, labor unite around Jackson

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about state Sen. Emily Cain receiving the endorsement of EMILY’s List in her campaign to win the Democratic nomination in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. In that piece, I mentioned that state Sen. Troy Jackson was working hard to match Cain’s endorsement with significant labor support.

It appears he has done just that.

According to Jackson’s Facebook page, one of Maine’s umbrella unions, the AFL-CIO, endorsed Jackson last week at its annual convention (my understanding is that the official announcement will come Monday afternoon). This endorsement comes on top of a handful of others that Jackson has been quietly racking up including: Local 6 (BIW), Ironworkers, Pipefitters, District 4 Lodge Machinists, IBEW 2327 Electrical, Local 900 Steelworkers, and the United Auto Workers Region 9A.

The significance of these endorsements to Jackson is as substantial as the EMILY’s List endorsement is to Cain, and in some ways more so.

First, it means there may be a slew of additional endorsements coming. The AFL is an umbrella organization comprised of nurses, painters, laborers, steelworkers, etc. For the AFL to endorse Jackson, the unions representing those folks had to sign off. If they signed off, that means many of them will probably endorse separately as well.

Second, it means there will be significant money flowing to Jackson’s campaign this quarter. Every one of these unions, and the ones that follow, can give $5,000. Plus, their members will now give, along with national labor donors. These endorsements could easily generate $50,000 in early direct money, and upwards of another $100,000+ if leveraged. It goes without saying that this will go a long way toward matching some of what EMILY’s List will do for Cain, although I am not sure it will completely match their financial power.

However, in one way, it will supersede the financial power of EMILY’s List, and that is in regard to bodies on the ground. Every one of these unions has hundreds to thousands of members, and those members are ready and willing to work for their candidate. These bodies will make calls, knock on doors, drop literature, write letters, and hold house parties. In a low turnout primary, as this will most certainly be, that is almost more important than money (almost).

A field operation can’t win a campaign without a lot of other pieces falling into place, but standard campaign thinking is that a great field operation can bring you three to five points on Election Day. Indeed, it was the difference for Mike Michaud when he won his primary in 2002 by four points over Susan Longley.

Clearly, Jackson’s past work on behalf of working people is paying off in a way that gives his campaign a great foundation. His work on the Labor Committee (I served with him for four years in that capacity) and his lifetime working in the Maine woods have moved the labor community to come on in strong in a way.

In the end, this race is turning out to be a classic Democratic primary. Women’s groups are going with Emily. Labor is going with Troy. Still up for grabs, environmental groups.

Posted by Ethan Strimling