AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said on Wednesday that his union will let certain endangered Democrats fend for themselves and potentially lose their seats in the upcoming November elections due to their anti-labor voting records.
Speaking to a small gathering of reporters shortly after President Obama implored the union's Executive Council to gear up for the final months of campaigning, Trumka insisted that his organization will not serve as a blank check for the party.
There would be "some" lawmakers, he stressed, who won't get any help from the AFL-CIO, which has said it is prepared to spend more than $53 million on the election. Trumka wouldn't name names. But he insisted that the union won't be persuaded to invest in a contest even if the election is a toss-up.
"I don't think viability has as much to do with it," Trumka said. "We look at people who are friends and if they are friends we will stay with them," he said. "But if they haven't been friends, than we are not going to dilute the resources that we have helping them when there are other candidates who have been real friends to the working people needing help."
The AFL-CIO chief already caused a stir in the 2010 election season when he put the union's resources behind a primary challenge to Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.). Lincoln ultimately won the nomination in a runoff election sparking a heated bit of anonymous sniping from White House officials. Trumka stressed that President Obama never talked him out of backing Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in that race. As for the nameless administration aides, he said: "The anonymous sources have [apologized]."
Far from discouraging the AFL-CIO from targeting Democratic members, Trumka said that the Arkansas experience was a boost. The union, he stressed, will not only let certain Democrats fend for themselves in 2010, it will primary others during the subsequent cycle.
"People now are more consultative. I think they are saying, 'Look, these guys are serious,'" he said. "In the future you will see [us] get more active, probably in primaries than you have before because if they get amnesia after we go all out to help them get elected... we will help them remember."
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