The Spectacle Blog

SEIU vs. the Stupak 12

By on 3.16.10 | 2:40PM

John Fund has an important column in the Wall Street Journal about threats by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to back primary challengers to anti-Obamacare Democrats. At this late a date, past many primary filing deadlines, such threats may be overblown. But it is still a shot across the bow to pro-labor Democrats in blue-collar districts who are standing with Bart Stupak. 

That description fits a lot of potential members of the "Stupak 12," including Congressman Stupak himself. Stupak voted with the AFL-CIO 100 percent of the time in 2008 and 98 percent of the time over the course of his legislative career. He voted with AFSCME 100 percent of the time that year and 95 percent of the time throughout his career. Stupak voted with SEIU 100 percent.

The same is true of Dale Kildee, another pro-life Michigan Democrat who has recently threatened to waver on the health care bill's abortion language. He voted with the AFL-CIO 100 percent in 2008 and 96 percent lifetime; AFSCME 100 percent in 2008 and 87 percent lifetime; SEIU 100 percent in 2008. Similar numbers hold for Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), Charlie Wilson (D-OH), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), and Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.).

In some cases, the previously pro-Stupak Democrats have better voting records from a union perspective than a pro-life one. Mary Kaptur (D-OH) has a mixed record on abortion: In 2007-08, she voted with the National Right to Life Committee 57 percent of the time and with NARAL Pro-Choice America 50 percent. Her NARAL ratings have ranged from a high of 100 percent in 2006 to a low of 35 percent in 2004. But she is consistent on labor issues: Kaptur was with the AFL-CIO 100 percent in 2008, 95 percent lifetime; with AFSCME 100 percent 2008, 93 percent lifetime; 100 percent with SEIU.

Baron Hill's (D-Ind.) abortion voting record has also varied, though he voted with NARAL 100 percent of the time in 2007, and his voting record is slightly less pro-labor. But his union ratings -- in the same order as Kaptur, 86 percent, 79 percent, 71 percent, 88 percent, 83 percent -- are higher than any he's received in recent years from a pro-life group. The same is true of Tim Ryan (D-OH), whose National Right to Life Committee score has plummetted from 80 percent in 2005-06 to zero in 2007-08. But Ryan's ratings with the big unions have never dipped below 98 percent.

These voting records aren't determinative, of course, and in some cases it might be too late for union retribution against Democrats who oppose Obamacare on pro-life grounds. But many of the pro-life, economically liberal Democrats inclined to stand with Stupak come from districts where union support is helpful -- and supporting the unions in return is expected.

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