Now Dean is calling on the AFL-CIO to get organized labor groups that have endorsed other candidates and are working for them — especially Rep. Dick Gephardt — in Iowa and New Hampshire out of the races.
“It isn’t good enough that Dean has AFSCME and SEIU working for him, now he wants all the other unions to stop working for their candidates,” says an AFL-CIO Washington lobbyist, who notes Dean has called AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to complain about union activities against him in Iowa.
According to a Gephardt staffer on the ground in Des Moines, Dean is most piqued about union members who are organizing Iowa caucus voters for Gephardt and thus making life miserable for AFSCME and SEIU members doing similar work for Dean across the state.
The tension between the two camps is heightened because while Dean has the big union backing, Gephardt has a larger percentage of AFL-CIO member unions in his camp, and the overall AFL-CIO endorsement will go to the candidate with the majority of member union support.
“For all the talk of Dean in Iowa, Gephardt still can challenge him for the AFL-CIO endorsement, which would go a long way to helping him win the nomination,” says the Gephardt staffer. “Dean’s people can try to bully the unions, but we’ve had a much longer relationship with them, and they aren’t just going to bend to Dean’s demands that easily.”
Meanwhile, the Dean team celebrated the endorsement they received from Sen. Tom Harkin on Friday afternoon. “It ended a really lousy week on a good note,” says a Dean staffer.
The endorsement also came at the end of week that may see some changes to the Dean operations. Already, Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi is installing senior management in Vermont headquarters to better manage a growing campaign team, and take the pressure off staffers traveling with the candidate. Should Dean win Iowa and New Hampshire, expect additional changes and expansion of the campaign staff.
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