* A look at the influence of labor unions in the governor’s race by ICPR…
Democratic candidate JB Pritzker is currently leading the field of gubernatorial candidates as measured by union endorsements. The self-funded Democrat has secured endorsements ranging from small local councils to large, statewide unions, including the 900,000-member Illinois AFL-CIO. All told, Pritzker has received 17 endorsements from unions collectively representing over 1.1 million members.
As endorsements have come out over the last few months, some argued that unions backed Pritzker early because of his personal wealth and promise to self-fund his campaign, which would allow unions to spend more money supporting labor-friendly candidates in General Assembly races across the state.
Kent Redfield, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois - Springfield, agrees with this assessment, ascribing many of these early endorsements to financial priorities. Redfield said that instead of focusing on policy differences between candidates, “union money is going to be much more concerned about whether they have to spend on the governor’s race, and on keeping a Democratic majority” in the General Assembly. Redfield noted that unions spent over $30 million on Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign in 2014, and would prefer to spend that money on down-ballot races in 2018.
Notably, some large labor groups have refrained from endorsing a candidate this early into the race. Such organizations include AFSCME Council 31, SEIU, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. […]
[Wayne Steger, Professor of Political Science at DePaul University] believes that state employee and teacher’s unions, like SEIU, IFT, and AFSCME, “are withholding their endorsement because they are trying to get stronger commitments from JB [Pritzker].” Steger points out, “it’s a risk, because if they wait and Pritzker takes a big lead in the polls, they are coming late to the game.” However, if the polls are looking close for Pritzker, key endorsements before the Primary could give Pritzker the edge he needs to win, elevating the clout of the unions.
There’s more, including the Sen. Sam McCann angle, so go read the rest.
* But I wanted to give a couple of those public employee unions a chance to respond. Here’s Anders Lindall from AFSCME Council 31…
AFSCME endorsements are the culmination of a grassroots process in which union members throughout the state examine the records, priorities and viability of the candidates in any given race. With respect to the 2018 primaries, that process is now in its early stages and will conclude at a statewide conference in January. If ICPR or the professor had contacted us before publishing this piece, we would’ve been happy to share that our actions to date reflect our process, not our judgment about any candidate.
* And here’s Aviva Bowen from the Illinois Federation of Teachers…
We’re not withholding anything. Our members drive the endorsement process, and they have only just started learning about the candidates and their visions for the future of Illinois. All we know for certain right now is that Bruce Rauner is committed to crisis, and we will do everything we can to stop him from hurting working people any further.