The other shoe dropped in the kerfuffle over John Kerry’s refusal to cross the ersatz picket line outside of the Mayors’ Conference Sunday. Today, the police union announced that it has dropped plans to picket the Democratic National Convention next month due to Kerry’s sop to the union this weekend:
Boston’s main police union abandoned yesterday their threat to picket at the site of next month’s Democratic National Convention, handing Senator John F. Kerry a major victory on the day he honored the union’s picket line by not making a speech before a US Conference of Mayors meeting in Boston. …
The shift in the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association’s picketing strategy would allow Kerry and thousands of convention delegates and members of the media to enter the FleetCenter unimpeded, despite the city’s ongoing labor woes. But Kerry’s cancellation drew sharp criticism from both Democratic and Republican mayors, who angrily accused the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of caving in to a local union that is making unreasonable demands.
Kerry pandered for the labor vote, without a doubt, and manuevered his fellow Democrat, Mayor Thomas Menino, into the fire by showing him up instead of supporting him and the other mayors. The immediate announcement makes the quid pro quo rather transparent, and should further incense Menino that Kerry tried to build his labor cred on his back.
The Globe includes more denunciations of Kerry’s actions by the mayors who wound up crossing the picket line only to be shown up by the Democratic nominee, and they aren’t pulling any punches:
Kerry’s cancellation and an earlier snub by Senator Kennedy dominated the news coming out of the four-day conference, which wrapped up yesterday. As the gathering proceeded, Kerry’s move drew heated denunciations from several mayors.
Mayor Manny Diaz of Miami called Kerry’s cancellation “a slap in the face of the nation’s mayors” and added that Kerry allowed a local labor dispute to scare him from an opportunity to discuss urban issues with a crucial audience.
“I am thoroughly disappointed in his decision, thoroughly disappointed,” Diaz said.
Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton, N.J., president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, pointedly noted that Kerry will need the support of local leaders, especially in swing states, in his bid for the presidency.
“We are really where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “We’re very disappointed and angry that Senator Kerry didn’t come to address the mayors.”
One reason I’m posting separately on this story rather than updating my earlier post is that I think Kerry’s actions in being so ostentatiously pro-labor may mean that Rep. Dick Gephardt is out as Kerry’s running mate. If Kerry picks Gephardt, then he has no worries among labor; unions love Gephardt, the primary old-fashioned labor pol in national politics. If Kerry is leaning towards another candidate, like John Edwards or someone else with a similar lack of credentials, then Kerry has to overtly demonstrate his brotherhood with the rank and file, especially given his wealthy origins and current status. I think Dick may wind up sitting out this election, too.
UPDATE: More confirmation that Gephardt can cozy up to the TV this November instead of heading to the stump:
Missouri favorite son Dick Gephardt is not the favorite vice presidential candidate of several rank-and-file state Democratic leaders looking to deliver its 11 electoral votes to John Kerry.
Asked which prospective running mate would help Kerry win the battleground state, eight of 11 county chairmen and chairwomen selected at random by The Associated Press chose Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Gephardt and Edwards are among those Kerry is reported to be considering. … “Gephardt just doesn’t have the get-up-and-go that Edwards has,” said Irma Brannum of Poplar Bluff, the Butler County party chairwoman. “Edwards is the exciting one,” said St. Charles County chairman Joe Koester.
If Gephardt can’t excite the Show-Me State, he’s not likely to help much anywhere else, either.