It's official. The country's largest labor union, the nearly 2 million member SEIU, is going to punt on any Democratic presidential endorsement. The announcement today comes after months of arduous internal and public debates over who to favor.
There's no way to interpret today's announcement, which leaves endorsements up to individual state union locals, as something other than a body blow to the campaign of John Edwards. "Given the importance of this election, we are encouraging members and leaders to act on their passion for the candidates and get involved on a statewide basis," said SEIU President Andy Stern
Six months ago, Edwards was considered a shoo-in for the SEIU nod and he was heavily supported by Stern and other top union leaders. But as Edwards poll numbers stalled, he lost traction within the union and a majority of SEIU political representatives meeting earlier this month could not be mustered on his behalf.
Now the battle will be underway to see how the biggest individual pieces of the union fall into line behind which candidate or another. Illinois could easily go with home favorite Barack Obama. New York locals might go with go Clinton. California locals might lean toward Edwards.
In the 2004 election cycle, SEIU poured $65 million and thousands of foot soldiers into the Democratic campaign -- the sort of boost that Edwards had been hoping for but which has now slipped through his fingers.