News Column

Gabriel Gomez Sees Chance With Unions

May 8, 2013

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez is targeting union support after Bay State AFL-CIO members offered a watered-down backing of rival U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey yesterday after an unusual splintered board vote that's a blow to the Malden Democrat's campaign.

"They have reached out, and we'll probably talk to them," said Plumbers' Local 12 business manager Kevin Cotter about Gomez's campaign. Mike Monahan, business manager of IBEW 103, told the Herald earlier that he wants to meet with Gomez as well.

Cotter cited the national Democratic Party's treatment of U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, who lost in the Senate primary to Markey, as a reason why he is slow to back the longtime Democratic congressman.

"For those of us who are close to Steve Lynch, our biggest concern was the national party," he said. Democratic heavyweights in Washington, D.C., in-cluding the National Democratic Senatorial Committee, quickly endorsed Markey the day that he announced in an effort to scare off other- contenders.

The AFL-CIO usually backs Democrats, but several board members refused to endorse Markey last week, a red flag for a campaign that needs base support to get out the vote during the low-turnout special election on June 25.

Both U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III received unanimous endorsements from the union's 70 board members when they were candidates.

Gomez has jumped on the soft support and reached out to those unions, said campaign spokesman Will Ritter.

"We look forward to meeting with them," Ritter said.

Markey needed two-thirds of the AFL-CIO's 70-member board to get an endorsement. AFL-CIO president Steven A. Tolman -- who declined to say how many members voted to endorse Markey -- dismissed concerns about the divided vote, saying their membership of 525,000 union families can support whoever they want.

"I admire the fact that they want to look at both sides before they make a decision," said Tolman, who said he believes the undecided unions will come around to Markey. "One is to be a partner for Elizabeth Warren and another to be a disciple of (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell."

The union members are meeting with Markey and Lynch at the Omni Parker- House in an effort to smooth over ruffled feathers- and rally support for the Democratic candidate.

"We're going to get together and have a conversation regarding how important the election is," Tolman said.

Markey didn't address the fractured vote in a statement.

"I am proud to have the support of the AFL-CIO, whose member unions are at the heart of America's labor movement. In the Senate, I will fight for higher- wages, quality affordable health care for all and a level playing field that puts Massachusetts workers first," he said.


(c)2013 the Boston Herald

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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013

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