Candidates Court Labor Group, Which May Wait to Reciprocate

NYT FDMaggie Haberman 7/29/2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 9.19.02 AM

Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where President Obama is back from Africa and will immediately return to pressing Congress to support the nuclear deal with Iran. Several of the Democratic candidates, and Mike Huckabee, will start appearing before a gathering of organized labor, honing their best arguments for why they are deserving of the group’s endorsements.

While Republican presidential hopefuls joust for the 10th slot on the debate stage in Cleveland on Aug. 6, the major umbrella labor group A.F.L.-C.I.O. will hold its executive council meeting this week amid debate about which candidate to support.

The labor group, led by Richard L. Trumka, will hear from five candidates at closed-door sessions — Hillary Rodham Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont among the Democratic primary contenders, and Mr. Huckabee as the lone Republican.

Mr. Huckabee has little chance of winning the union’s endorsement, but his populist appeal and pitch to preserve Social Security and Medicare could resonate with members.

However, the group is expected to formally decide to delay endorsing a presidential candidate for now. Mr. Trumka is seen as looking for leverage to influence the eventual Democratic nominee’s policy positions.

Mr. Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist with strong economic progressive credentials, has a significant following in the labor group.

The executive council will also make recommendations to the affiliate unions as to how they make their endorsements. The recent endorsement by the American Federation of Teachers, led by Randi Weingarten, a longtime ally of Mrs. Clinton, of her candidacy, has ruffled feathers as some members of that union disagreed with the choice.