Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln's reelection campaign has put some
distance between the White House and organized labor unions
, one of the
most important political players in Democratic politics. The White House
backed Lincoln in her Democratic primary in Arkansas, whereas national
labor groups spent millions of dollars backing Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who
challenged Lincoln in the primary. What level of acrimony is there
between these two powerful political institutions, and what will it mean?
House Deaf to Labor's Message The New York Times announces, "They may not have won, but
discontented Democrats sent an important message to the Obama
administration on Tuesday by mounting an unexpectedly strong primary
challenge to Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. For the White House to
minimize the efforts of unions and others who helped support that
challenge suggests a tone-deafness to the growing restlessness in the
- Reduced Power for Labor The Washington
Post's Chris Cillizza writes,
"Unions spent $10 million on ads, mail and voter turnout efforts in
Arkansas with the express goal of beating Sen. Blanche Lincoln in
Tuesday's runoff and, in so doing, sending a message to other moderate
Democrats that straying too far from the union agenda would be met with
swift consequences," but they lost. "Labor claimed that even in defeat
its message had been sent. But in politics, wins and losses are the
whole game. Near misses and moral victories don't count for much."
Could Help Democrats The Wall Street Journal's Stephanie Simon and
Kris Maher write, "National Democrats were annoyed at the intramural
fight, but they did see some benefits in how it turned out. Ms. Lincoln
now may hold up the union opposition as a badge of honor in her general
election campaign--useful in convincing centrist voters that she is an
independent-minded candidate who doesn't toe the party line. ...
Establishment Democrats also expressed hope that unions and the party's
left wing would stop trying to remove centrist incumbents and focus on
- Would Labor Ditch Obama Admin?
FireDogLake's David Dayen shakes his
head. "I think labor's basically done with this partnership. They
aren't above holding a meeting, but the rank and file simply will not
let them defend the White House anymore. An independent labor movement
can be a great asset to progressive politics, and I think that's the
direction in which we're headed. The Administration can walk back or
moonwalk or send a nice card on heavy stock or do whatever they can to
woo labor again, but I think it's over."
- 'Labor Peace?'
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports, "It
fell to White House political director Patrick Gaspard to meet with
senior labor leaders today, trying to quell anger at some blind quotes
published in this space and elsewhere about White House frustration with
labor's decision to spent $10 million to knock off Blanche Lincoln.
Labor was happy to hear Gaspard acknowledge that it was able to make its
own decisions about spending, and the White House was happy to point
out instances where labor had publicly knocked Obama. Tempers did not
flair and the mood was cooperative when the meeting ended."
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