The leader of one of the nation's top campaign donors - the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union - said Tuesday the union will have less enthusiasm for congressional campaigns this year out of frustration over Washington's political gridlock, a move that may have major implications in California.
SEIU president Andy Stern told The Chronicle that the focus of its 700,000 California members will be on state races, including the governor's race, where Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown will square off against the winner of the Republican primary in June between state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.
But if other unions follow the lead of the SEIU, it could affect what are expected to be tough re-election campaigns for Democrats like Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton.
Organized labor not only provides cash to candidates - predominantly Democrats - but its membership has traditionally done the door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor campaigning that is the lifeblood of any political campaign.
"I think you'll see a little less enthusiasm for congressional races, particularly in the Senate," Stern said Tuesday in Oakland. He was in the East Bay to walk off the job with health care workers at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin to protest what they feel are unfair labor practices there.
"But I think you'll see a lot of enthusiasm in the statewide races," Stern said. "I think our members totally understand what the Legislature, what the governor mean to the future of the state."
I can't imgine worse news for California taxpayers. Thanks to the Dem-controlled legislature, taxpayers are already on the hook for bloated public employee pensions that are billions of dollars in the hole.