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Culver, Conlin garner new endorsements
The gubernatorial campaign of Chet Culver as well as the U.S. Senate campaign of Roxanne Conlin received a boost this week from notable endorsements.
On Monday, the Conlin campaign received a nod of approval from former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and the Democracy for America organization.
“I disagree with the pundits who are again underestimating the intelligence of the American people with their predictions,” Dean, who founded the DFA, said in a prepared statement. “It’s the Republicans who will face a tough time trying to explain why they are for the interests of insurance companies, oil companies and Wall Street over the needs of the American people.”
Conlin is facing Chuck Grassley, who has served Iowans on the federal level since 1975. Although he has thwarted numerous challengers in the past, some have opined that Grassley is more vulnerable this year, especially among independent voters, due to an uncharacteristic wooing of the conservative base as well as controversial statements in the build up to health care reform.
In an e-mail message to Iowa DFA members, Dean noted that he urged support of Conlin “not because [she is] a Democrat,” but because she has a record “of fighting for the people, not corporations.”
Chet Culver, a Democrat who is seeking re-election as Iowa governor, received the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Iowa Council 61.
Members, who approved the endorsement on July 17, noted that it was due in part to Culver’s support of programs like the State Employee Retirement Incentive Program (SERIP) and efforts to reform state government.
Culver faces Republican Terry Branstad, who previously served as governor from 1983 to 1999, on the November ballot.
“Our members who worked under Terry Branstad remember the way in which he treated public employees during his rule, and our younger members are aware of his current pledges to cut them if he is elected. With those options in front of AFSCME members, the choice was very clear to them,” said Danny Homan, president of the Council, in a statement. “We need to continue to move forward under Chet Culver, not backward under Terry Branstad.”
Despite ongoing tensions between unions and Culver, the endorsement shouldn’t come as a big shock. In 1991, Iowa Council 61 was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Branstad for ignoring binding arbitration by vetoing a salary bill. Although Branstad appealed the case to the Iowa Supreme Court, the courts held firm that Branstad had to abide by the arbitrators decisions. The state not only was told to pay state employees what they were owed, but also to pay 5 percent interest on the unpaid balances.
In Iowa, AFSCME represents 40,000 public employees such as members of law enforcement, professional school staff, emergency responders and child care providers.
The DFA maintains more than 1 million members throughout the nation, but does not provide a state-level breakdown.
The endorsements are notable not only for the monetary help the organizations have historically provided to candidates, but for the shoe-leather benefits their membership provides to Iowa candidates.