Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Key labor union backs Constantine in King Co. exec race"

Joel Connelly:

Three big locals of the Service Employees International Union are throwing their weight behind Dow Constantine's candidacy for King County executive, giving him a big boost for the Aug. 18 primary.
The locals have a combined membership of 65,000, with 20,000 of those members living in King County.

Constantine, a King County Councilman, has been in hot competition for labor support with council colleague and fellow exec candidate Larry Phillips.

"We feel Dow is the best person for the job, and the strongest candidate to take on Susan Hutchison in November," Adam Glickman, an SEIU spokesman, said Wednesday.

Hutchison, former KIRO TV news anchor, has Republican ties. She leads early polls, even though King County gave big margins to Democrats in last November's elections.

The SEIU Locals 6, 775 and 1199 represent hospital and mental health workers, long-term care workers plus janitors and security guards.

The SEIU is a forceful outfit in West Coast politics. It was a major presence in this state's 2004 and 200 gubernatorial campaigns. It backed Chris Gregoire in 2004 and helped fund a front group called Evergreen Progress that spent millions of dollars in 2008 attacking her GOP opponent Dino Rossi.

The SEIU has had one big setback. It blew away more than $250,000 in a 2004 primary challenge to Democratic state Rep. Helen Sommers, the most influential budger writer in the state Legislature.

Constantine has collared big union endorsements, even if Phillips does have backing from public employees unions. The Boeing Machinists endorsed Constantine last week.
Glickman said the SEIU will be contacting its members to tout Constantine as the best candidate.
In 2001, a concerted effort by organized labor to contact union families is credited with helping elect Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels by a narrow 8,000 vote margin. Unions may be losing clout nationally, but the remain a strong presence in King County politics.

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