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Union Endorsement Still Up in the Air

John Edwards appears to be in the lead to receive one of labor's most coveted endorsements, but he may have to wait a little longer to know whether he can claim the prize.

Members of the Service Employees International Union have spent the last two days hearing from the candidates and the SEIU board will meet Wednesday morning to discuss their endorsement decision.

Even before the two-day gathering, SEIU president Andrew Stern had pointed in the direction the union may be heading, by saying Edwards had more support among the 1.9 million members than any of the other Democrats.

If SEIU endorses anyone, the likeliest candidate by far is Edwards, according to labor sources. But both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have strong support from SEIU members in their home states -- and Obama's speech on Monday was judged the best of the lot.

So it's possible SEIU will, in the end, decide not to endorse anyone and that will be part of the discussion at Wednesday's board meeting.

In any case, the leadership may not be ready to announce an endorsement decision this week. After all the union waited until November 2003 to spring its surprise joint endorsement (with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) of Howard Dean.

Edwards has worked tirelessly for the SEIU endorsement -- just as he's done with many other unions -- and it may pay dividends. His advisers see the union endorsements as providing a psychological boost for a candidacy that remains in third place in national polls.

The former North Carolina senator also needs the support of organized labor to overcome the financial advantages of both Clinton and Obama, who have significantly out-raised him in both of the first two quarters of the year.

Although Dean's candidacy collapsed less than two months after SEIU and AFSCME endorsed him, SEIU leaders have few regrets about their decision. In their view, the endorsement ought to go to someone who has fought for the issues important to their members, not just someone ahead in the polls.

That could bode well for Edwards, if the union decides not to stay neutral. But the deal may not yet be done.

--Dan Balz

By Washington Post editors  |  September 18, 2007; 6:45 PM ET
 
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Comments

"Why do Edwards supporters continue to post on various blogs that the event was held in Chicago? Oh, wait, I know..."

I think I do, too - Because Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Joe Biden actually bothered to show up in Chicago to speak to the LiUNA union's presidential forum, before rushing to DC to speak to the SEIU, and the posters are getting the two fora confused. I'm sure they're aware that Obama couldn't be arsed to attend a union forum in his own hometown, so I'm sure it's just an honest mistake.

Posted by: machka | September 19, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Why do Edwards supporters continue to post on various blogs that the event was held in Chicago? Oh, wait, I know...

Posted by: renatarollins | September 19, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"and Obama's speech on Monday was judged the best of the lot. "


Says who?

Posted by: dailykos1 | September 19, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Edwards has been a big supporter of Unions for the last 4 years or so. Obama has been supporting and workign with Unions for his entire adult life. I sure hope that the SEIU takes this into account and endorses Obama. I don't think Hillary has any chance of getting this endorsement. It will be either Edwards or Obama. I like Edwards but he doesn't come close to Obama.

Posted by: carusofarm | September 19, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Well indefenseofjohnedwards, you are totally mis-informed. The conference was held in Washington, DC with rank and file representation from all of the SEIU locals. This included locals from Chicago where Obama has strong support as well as New York where Hilary has strong support. SEIU members will decide based on which candidates best support the issues of working men and women.

Posted by: floyd.lewis | September 19, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Edwards got a great and enthusiastic reception from the SEIU members, so I think he's in a good position. If Edwards is able to win in Iowa, unlike Dean, then the true advantage of the union endorsements will come to play. They'll provide him with instant organization in the 2/5 primaries.

Posted by: sfmandrew | September 19, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Your right Mel, with the passive acceptance of Clinton's inevitability that the media has been pushing at us 24/7 which has sucked the life and marginalized all the other candidates. May I ask you this, Why? Clinton has been pushed at us by a corporate owned main stream media in a way I have never seen done before. Why? Any negative that surfaces slides off her like Teflon. Why? Major problems with her candidacy barely rate a one paragraph blurb in the media, yet Edwards haircut is still bandied about and woven into most articles with a wink and nod It's inane pettiness can still rate front page status. Why? Hillary failed at health care reform in the 90's but now paradoxically is touted as an expert and is shown in public polls as the most likely candidate to give us UHC. Really??? Why? She couldn't before, why now? Especially with all the money she has excepted from the very interests that will fight tooth and nail to see it fail. Color be confused...There are so many issues where she is crowned the expert. Why? she was the wife of a former President. I am the wife of a Contractor, even though I have lived with his running a company for 35 years, however it doesn't qualify me, or make me capable to build a table, let alone build a house. Why does this count as experience for her? Osmosis? Why? I hear it's time for a woman, perhaps that's true, but more importantly, it has to be the right woman. Sadly, Hillary is not that woman. She represents the past. Hillary is not Bill people, I think people are afraid and are by default harkening back to a time when they were less afraid. We are in desperate need of change, and as Edwards says we do not need to replace GOP insiders with Dem insiders.
Edwards 08' The People's President. A man of the people, for the people.

Posted by: asher13 | September 19, 2007 2:30 AM | Report abuse

I am a survivor of NAFTA and there was nobody more angry than I was in 2002 when my plant moved to Mexico. The problem is, everyone talks about these wonderful Union endorsements but I guarantee you, let your plant close and see where your Union is. You even get dropped from the monthly magazine. I used to be a President/Business Manager of a Local Union so don't tell me I am not "union" enough. The bottom line is that we need leadership and if the Unions take a realistic look at leadership, they elect experience. Someone able to be across from the table with the opposition to get things accomplished for us, the common person. There is talk about organizing . . . this puts money into the International Union pockets, not necessarily your little local unions out there fighting for the true people without health care or other benefits. Sen. Obama is bringing up the fact he organized. So did I, but that does not qualify anyone to be the leader of the free world.

We need someone to lead this country into a new arena. To bring back the respect we had, to bring back a manufacturing base that this country was based on after the great depression. Are Union people the only ones that see a decline in quality versus quantity? Buy an American made TV, DVD, computer or even jeans anymore. Obama is not the answer, John Edwards is not going to win either, so therefore, I hope people take Hillary seriously. Enough of the bashing between candidates, elect the one that will help us, the little people.

Posted by: mel | September 19, 2007 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I hope they endorse sooner rather than later. John Edwards needs support NOW. If these groups that plan on endorsing people other than Clinton don't go ahead and get it done, there may be no point in even bothering a couple of months from now, if they allow the media to keep hyping "CLINTON INEVITABILITY" without doing things like "endorsing other candidates" to take some of the shine off of that train.

Posted by: OEST | September 18, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, the media have certainly worked hard over the last two days to try and make the SEIU endorse Barack Obama, without ever mentioning the fact that part of the reason he was so warmly received on Monday is because THE EVENT WAS IN CHICAGO, which is his hometown.

I'm sure SEIU officials from all over the country were in attendance, but as far as the members, the crowd had to be mostly Chicago SEIU.

Outside of Chicago and New York SEIU, most of the largest local SEIUs want to go with John Edwards.

Posted by: OEST | September 18, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet the go for hillary, even though her husband did sign NAFTA, and send all those jobs south of the border.

Posted by: kesac | September 18, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

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