WASHINGTON — Most people look at Labor Day as summer’s last hurrah, and hope for one last beach trip or one final family barbecue before the back-to-school routine gets underway.
But for politicians, Labor Day is a work day. Candidates will make sure to get to a roster of parades to shake hands, exchange pleasantries and press for votes.
And before Labor Day — set aside to honor the contribution of hardworking Americans — the candidates for governor lined up endorsements from labor organizations.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the Republican incumbent, garnered endorsements from groups including the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Firefighters and the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA).
Ben Jealous, the Democrat hoping to beat Hogan, listed endorsements from the Service Employees International Union, AFSCME Maryland and the Marlyland State Education Association.
Bruce DePuyt, a senior reporter with Maryland Matters, said it’s no surprise to see that Hogan got the thumbs-up from public safety unions. Perhaps the most notable endorsement, De Puyt said, comes from LIUNA.
What makes that support remarkable, said DePuyt, is the fact that in 2014, LIUNA supported Democrat Anthony Brown who ran, and lost against Hogan.
And in this year’s Democratic primary, the union backed gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno. “So somehow, they managed to go from Rich Madaleno to Larry Hogan in a relatively short span of time. So, Hogan has all of that in his favor,” DePuyt said.
While Hogan has garnered support from a disparate set of unions, DePuyt said Jealous’ labor support is strong and could prove critical.
“In terms of real impact, in terms of how this all plays out in November, the advantage there is with Jealous,” he said.
DePuyt explained Jealous has support from the unions referred to as “the Big Four” in political circles. Those are: the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, AFSCME and SEIU. “They are the biggest unions, by far, in Maryland, and they are solidly behind Democrat Ben Jealous. They want Larry Hogan out,” DePuyt said.
While both candidates tout their endorsements from labor unions, do those translate into votes by members on Election Day?
“The simple answer obviously is; sometimes, because people are individuals” DePuyt said. “No union can promise 100 percent, perhaps not even close to 100 percent of its membership, but it does mean dollars, and it does mean boots on the ground” he said.
Hogan has what DePuyt calls an “eye-popping” campaign war chest of $9 million and Jealous has nowhere near that amount of campaign cash. That’s why the union endorsements mean so much to the Jealous campaign, said DePuyt.
As for the tradition of local parades turning into a political event, DePuyt said, “There is something about the end of summer, Labor Day weekend, kids going back to school and people settling back into their routines. In an election year, this means we focus on the campaigns. And the big enchilada in Maryland this year, is the campaign for governor.”
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