Pennsylvania’s largest labor union held its endorsement meeting today, and backed candidates in three of the state’s most heated Democratic primaries. The AFL-CIO is backing Mark Critz in PA-12, Tim Holden in PA-17, and Patrick Murphy for Attorney General.
A union spokesperson confirmed the endorsements to PoliticsPA. Candidates must achieve the support of two-thirds-plus-one of voting labor leaders in order to achieve an endorsement.
An endorsement from the union, which boasts over 900,000 members in Pa., provides a variety of benefits for candidates: mail pieces to union members and primary voters, Democratic bragging rights, and most importantly, boots on the ground for get out the vote efforts.
In each case, the incumbent has strong ties to labor.
Mark Critz, PA-12
Labor plays heavily in western Pa., and Critz has earned the endorsement of every major labor union in the 12th district in his primary against fellow Democrat Jason Altmire (including the Western Pa. Laborers, AFSCME, the United Steelworkers, United Mineworkers, SEIU and each of the area labor councils in the district)
With the recommendations to the AFL-CIO from each of those groups, his endorsement was almost a foregone conclusion.
“The endorsement of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is a major boost to my campaign,” said Critz. “I am the only candidate in this race that has made creating jobs and strengthening the middle class a priority and this endorsement demonstrates that I am the best candidate for the working men and women.”
Update: The leadership of the AFL-CIO commented on the union’s support for Critz.
“He’s the best candidate to represent the over 100,000 union members in the district who are looking for someone to fight for jobs and an economy that works for everyone,” said Pa. AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomindale.
“Leading up to the April 24th primary our members are going to be going door to door, talking to their neighbors about the issues in this election. Along the way, and at every stop, our members are also going to be reminding their neighbors that Congressman Critz is the best person to fight for them in Washington,” said Secretary Treasurer Frank Snyder.
Tim Holden, PA-17
Holden, Pa.’s longest-serving member of Congress, is facing a primary from Lackawanna County attorney Matt Cartwright. He’s taking heat for his relatively conservative voting record, and relying on his historically strong support from labor in order to bolster his Democratic bona fides.
AFL-CIO knows having the 10th-ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee means more funding for construction projects in the district.
“Congressman Holden would like to thank the local labor councils in the 17th Congressional district that recommended this endorsement, and of course would like to thank President Rick Bloomingdale,” said Holden campaign manager Eric Nagy. “Mr. Bloomingdale heads a fine organization, and we are honored to receive the endorsement of the AFL-CIO – a group that gives a voice to American workers.”
Update: reaction from the Cartwright camp.
“I fail to see how voting against legislation that would have made it harder for banks to foreclose on homes owned by people who are unemployed, is helping the working men and women of northeast Pennsylvania,” said campaign manager Shane Seaver. “The leadership of the AFL-CIO made this endorsement happen. Matt Cartwright is more interested in the support of the actual workers of the AFL-CIO.”
Patrick Murphy, Attorney General
Murphy has practically run the table on labor union endorsements in his race for Attorney General. The former Congressman from Bucks County faces former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane.
“I’m honored to earn the support of so many hard working Pennsylvanians,” Murphy said. “There is a clear contrast in this race. I’ve always fought to defend the rights of workers to organize for better wages and working conditions, and as Attorney General I will continue to protect workers and the middle class.”
Murphy reiterated his criticism of Kane over anti-union comments made by executives at her family’s company, Kane is Able.
Update: reaction from the Kane camp.
“[Murphy] makes misleading negative attacks about Democrat Kathleen Kane while Murphy’s own law partners boast on their website that they ’design and implement union avoidance programs.’ We’re very pleased with today’s announcement that Kathleen Kane has been endorsed by President Bill Clinton,” said Communications Director Josh Morrow.