Bubba helps Blanche Lincoln beat the unions
Sometimes, revenge is a dish best not served at all.
Ten million dollars from the pockets of hard working Americans were spent by organized labor in the effort to defeat Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln because she defied union instructions and voted against a public insurance option during the recent health care legislation debate.
Despite the fact that Lincoln’s challenger was a considerably more progressive candidate who would have faced a difficult – if not impossible – race in November, organized labor elected to spend a fortune in the effort to defeat Lincoln solely to make an example out of her. In making their point, the unions were willing to allow a Democratic senate seat to slide into the hands of a GOP candidate who surely would have been no more supportive of the public option and a certain foe in the effort to accomplish union goals.
All pundits to the contrary, Senator Lincoln managed to pull out a 4% victory over Lt. Governor Bill Halter last night and will be the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in the State of Arkansas.
So much for labor tossing its weight around.
As an unnamed senior White House official said last night in a phone call to Politico’s Ben Smith -
Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise. If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November.
What went wrong for organized labor down in Arkansas?
While Lincoln had the endorsement of President Barack Obama, it is unlikely it was Obama who did the trick for Blanche Lincoln. The president was trounced in the state during the 2008 election and is likely no more popular there today.
If you’re looking for the ‘difference-maker’, look no further than ex-president William Jefferson Clinton, the still popular ex-governor of the state who not only campaigned through Arkansas on behalf of Lincoln, but did not mince words in calling out the unions for using Arkansas, and its citizens, to make their point. Clinton has his own history of bumping heads with organized labor and was just the right man to communicate the message to his fellow Arkansans.
“This is about using you and manipulating your votes,” Clinton said in an ad which featured a clip of a speech the former president made at a rally for Lincoln last month.
It was the message that resonated. Arkansas voters apparently understood that they were being played as pawns by organized labor.
Smarting from the loss, labor attempted to frame the experience as a moral victory – suggesting that they hoped Senator Lincoln had learned a lesson from the pressure they applied during the primary campaign.
Mary Kay Henry, the recently elected president of the powerful Service Employees International Union, had this to say –
Tonight, Senator Lincoln won a narrow victory after a bruising runoff election where each and every day she was reminded that her success is only measured by doing right by working people and their families.
Via The Times Union
Let’s hope that it was organized labor that learned a lesson. While the unions have an important political role to play in the election process, at a time when their members are struggling, wasting $10 million in the quest for revenge may not be the best possible use of memberships’ hard earned money.
That unnamed White House spokesman was right. This kind of money could make a real difference in congressional districts where politicians supportive of union objectives need the help. To waste this much cash on a vendetta is an abuse of the power given to organized labor leadership by their members and should not be permitted to happen again.