One of the most powerful labor leaders in the country said on Thursday that Democrats were unable to hold the governor's chair in Virginia and may lose seats nationally because of a lack of truly populist principles.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, told a summit in Washington D.C. that without improvements in the job market, elected officials -- including the Democratic majority in Congress -- would likely flounder in 2010.
"I don't think we should feel comfortable with what's going on for several reasons," Trumka said, when asked about the current status of economic growth. "One: even though you may see some green sprouts right now as far as the economy, until jobs are starting to be created it means nothing..."
The union leader saved his toughest political analysis, however, for a candidate that his institution endorsed. Former gubernatorial aspirant Creigh Deeds lost the race for Virginia governor because he declined to promote progressive policy points, said Trumka.
"Creigh Deeds said he would opt-out of the public option, which certainly depressed his base," said Trumka. "He was against giving workers greater collective bargaining rights."
"He really didn't define himself in a way that people wanted to hear. People want to hear about jobs. They want to hear about how you will create jobs."
Pressed if a winning electoral message was a populist one, Trumka replied: "If you look at the last election that's exactly what's happened. The populist message is everything."