Unions: 2014 midterm will be different

ADVERTISEMENT
The Senate passed an immigration reform bill earlier this year, but House Republicans have yet to move on legislation of their own. The lower chamber’s conservative caucus has chafed at the Senate bill, and the immigration reform push stalls, it could be a galvanizing election-year issue for Latino voters who lean Democratic.

Podhorzer said several of the Republican-controlled congressional districts contain a growing Latino population that has not showed up at the voting booth in the past.

“If there is motivation for engagement in 2014 congressional elections, that could disrupt a lot of districts,” Podhorzer said.

Nevertheless, the AFL-CIO political director said it would be difficult for Democrats to retake the House next year due to redistricting that created several GOP-heavy districts. But Podhorzer said the looming government shutdown would hurt Republicans more than Democrats due to the GOP’s push for defunding ObamaCare.

“The first big factor is what happens in the next couple of the weeks,” Podhorzer said. “If there is a shutdown, I think there’s an opening for Democrats.”

Unions have faced their biggest setbacks at the level of state government, and plan to play a bigger role in those elections next year. Republicans such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have looked to curb union power, and all three are up for reelection in 2014.

“There’s no question that we are going to be putting more resources into state governors and legislatures than we have in the past,” Podhorzer said. “Right now, the Republicans are moving ferociously their anti-worker, anti-women’s health, anti-voting agenda in the states.”