NY-23- Union Members Help Beat Back Right-Wing
by The Electrical Worker, Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 05:37:08 AM EST
Dennis Affinati, business manager of Electrical Workers Local 910 in Watertown, N.Y.,--located near the Canadian border--doesn't turn his back on his friends.
When President Obama appointed John McHugh, the Republican congressman for New York's 23rd District, as Secretary of the Army, it didn't take Affinati long to decide who to endorse as his replacement.
Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate, was a true friend, with a 100 percent labor voting record in the New York State Assembly. "Dede knows and cares about our community" as the spouse of a former UAW president of a shut down General Motors assembly plant, says Affinati.
In a district that had elected Republicans to Congress for the last 100 years, Scozzafava was the best candidate, says Affinati, to replace McHugh, who, while he didn't have a "perfect labor record," supported project labor agreements and the Employee Free Choice Act.
I am sick of reading blogs where Democrats and Republicans call each other enemies. Hopefully we vote for the person.
Unfortunately, that approach doesn't hold water with the Republican right.
As soon as she announced her candidacy, Scozzafava--who holds liberal views on abortion and gay marriage--was targeted in political ads from the right. "It got really nasty," says Affinati, who said that Scozzafava's family was attacked in the media and received threats at home.
Seeking to ride the crest of anger at an economy that has left many workers on the street, Doug Hoffman, a multi-millionaire businessman, left the Republican Party for the Conservative Party and challenged Scozzafava and the Democratic candidate Bill Owens. Hoffman won high-profile support from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
"We had a pro-labor Republican, but her own mainstream allies deserted her," says Affinati. Scozzafava, tired of unprincipled attacks, dropped out of the race and endorsed Democrat Owens. Affinati and other labor leaders followed suit.
On November 3, Owens won election.
I believe that exit polls will show that labor played a key role in making up the five points that Owens trailed by the day before his victory.
That's important in making certain that Owens goes to Congress supporting working families.
However, says Affinati:
It's a shame that ultra-conservative business interests got away with forcing a real good person out of the race.