Michael Bennet's Labor Problems: Senator Votes Yes On Obama Nominee As Unions Endorse Dem. Rival
In a tough vote in the U.S. Senate Wednesday, Michael Bennet sided with Democrats and labor by voting to end a filibuster of an Obama nominee to the National Labor Relations Board, Craig Becker. Becker had his nomination blocked by Republicans and two swing state Democrats (Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas) who claimed the general council to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is too closely tied to Labor. Bennet voted with the failed effort to end the filibuster and give Becker a vote on the Senate floor.
As Politico points out, Bennet was appointed by Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, who has had his own trouble with labor, and Bennet--a Freshman--has been accused of waffling on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
In response to the vote, likely Republican nominee Jane Norton blasted Bennet:
"After 383 days in office, Coloradans finally know that Michael Bennet favors ending the secret ballot and empowering union bosses to cripple our economy. It's a shame the appointed senator chose to make his opinion finally known through the whimper of a failing vote on a parliamentary maneuver. Colorado deserves a senator who values the dignity of voters enough to stand on principle and let her views be known,"
Bennet's office downplayed the decision, telling Politico, "This is a qualified candidate for this position. It's too bad some in Congress are too caught up with playing political games."
Compounding Bennet's problems, two key labor unions in Colorado--the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Colorado Council of Teamsters--backed Bennet's Democratic rival Andrew Romanoff.