WASHINGTON — The head of the nation's largest public employees union says he will step down next year, setting up a heated contest to guide a political powerhouse that has been among the biggest spenders in Democratic campaigns.
Gerald McEntee has guided the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees since 1981. He told members in a letter Thursday that he would not seek another four-year term at the union's convention next summer.
His decision comes as public employee unions have spent the year battling efforts to curb their clout in state legislatures nationwide. The 76-year-old McEntee led the union to spend about $90 million during the 2010 midterm elections, making it the largest outside spender on congressional campaigns.
McEntee plans to stay on until the union's June 2012 convention.
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