SEIU launches political field campaign to boost Obama

Brandon Davis, SEIU’s national political director, told reporters on a conference call that it was the union's largest-ever field campaign and that they would be active in federal and state races this fall.

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“In taking on that effort, we are not just working in presidential battleground states but also focused on winning at every level of the ticket, both federal, state and ballot fights facing working families,” Davis said.

The dollar investment for the union is expected to be substantial.

“It will be a very similar to the investment that was made in 2008,” Davis said.

SEIU officials have said in the past that the union spent $85 million on its 2008 political program.

Coupled with the field program is a $4 million Spanish-language television and radio ad campaign by SEIU and Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama super-PAC, which began last week. Those ads have begun to highlight presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s position on immigration reform.

Eliseo Medina, SEIU’s secretary-treasurer, said Romney’s stance on immigration reform, especially in light of Obama’s move last week to stop deporting younger illegal immigrants, will hurt him with Latino voters.

“Obviously, he is the only one that could overturn it if he gets elected president. He makes it very clear where he stands and what that means for the Latino community,” Medina said.

SEIU officials emphasized they will focus on the ground game — talking to voters, get-out-the vote efforts and so on — which is a traditional strength of labor. Further, that will be expanded much more this year, including by contacting more non-union households.

“Our advantage, quite frankly, is on the ground,” Davis said. “We’re probably going to talk to around three times as many voters in the general public as we ever have in one of our programs.”

“What’s different about this year is we are not just talking about labor boots on the ground. We are talking about allies of ours and their boots on ground with us,” said Gerry Hudson, a SEIU executive vice president. “We are not acting in isolation.”