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September 19, 2006
Union Shifts To Lamont After Primary

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has switched its endorsement from Joe Lieberman to Ned Lamont in a curious about-face after the primaries. Before Lieberman lost to Lamont, AFSCME had enthusiastically supported the incumbent with his long record of union-friendly votes. Somehow that became less of a concern to AFSCME leadership in the five weeks since:

The switch by the union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is the biggest labor boost Mr. Lamont has received since winning the Democratic primary last month.

The support of the union, which represents about 35,000 members, shows that Mr. Lamont has chipped away at enough of Mr. Lieberman’s union support to make it most likely that the state A.F.L.-C.I.O., the umbrella group of state labor organizations, will stay neutral in the Senate general election.

Both Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Lamont had lobbied the municipal union for its endorsement, speaking to the union delegates personally on Friday. News of the endorsement was reported Monday in The Hartford Courant.

This seems pretty curious. After all, in the short period of time since the primary, Lieberman hasn't had much opportunity to cast votes on anything, let alone union issues. Sal Luciano, the union's leader, says that Lieberman's independent bid indicates to the union that Lieberman will not fight the Bush agenda -- but once again, Lieberman has hardly backed the Bush agenda on anything except the war.

Luciano's move looks a lot like partisan politics than in representing the union's interests. That's not illegal, but union members might question whether Luciano's actions might come back to haunt the union if Lieberman wins re-election. After all, the union exists to protect the interests of its members in the workplace, not the interests of the Democratic Party as a wholly-owned affiliate of the DNC. The only thing that changed after the primary about either candidate was their endorsement by the Democratic Party -- and that was enough to make AFSCME change its endorsement.

Luciano will have to answer to his membership for his unprompted switch. Unions in general will once again have to answer to American voters for electoral strategies that appear in lock step with Democratic leadership.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 19, 2006 5:46 AM

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