Tags: afl | cio | gop | governors

AFL-CIO Aiming at GOP Governors in 2014

Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 05:13 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The country's most prominent labor organization intends to put its political muscle into unseating six Republican governors in key races in 2014, AFL-CIO's top strategist said.

AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer told reporters that the gridlock in Washington means state elections will become more important in terms of their impact on real people's lives.

He named six likely AFL-CIO targets: Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Paul LePage of Maine, and Rick Scott of Florida, Politico reported.

"While a lot of the attention here in the Beltway has been around who’s going to control the Senate or what’s going to happen in the House, for most Americans, what’s really important in 2014 is going to be what happens to the governors who have pursued scorched-earth policies in their states," Podhorzer said. "That’s the arena that we’re focused on. That’s the area that’s going to be most consequential for people’s lives."

"Our focus is really going to be at the state level, because that's where we think that our constituents — working-class families, working families — are going to have the most at stake over the following four years," Podhorzer said, chiding the GOP governors for slashing "the safety net" and education and pursuing "benefits for the affluent."

He said the AFL-CIO would also be active in this year's Virginia gubernatorial race, where unions oppose GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who is running against Democat Terry McAuliffe, USA Today reported.

"We have looked at the races in the odd years not just as important in their own rights but as the testing ground for approaches we are going to take in the even years," he said.

The veteran strategist predicted the midterms would be like "trench warfare."

"What our strategy is, is making sure that the working people who turned out in 2006 — the working people who were demobilized for the 2010 elections — are turning out," he said. "If we’re successful, there will be a big battle for the white middle- and working-class vote."

Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson called the labor battle plan a "desperate attempt to counter the pro-jobs, pro-business reforms" of the targeted GOP state executives. And with union membership at its lowest point in 96 years, he added, the union strategy comes as "no surprise."

"While unions bicker and fight for their very survival, Republican Governors are getting results — and the voters have taken notice," Thompson said.

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