Labor unions haven’t forgotten their pledge on healthcare vote

Despite the improved Republican chances for a takeover of the House, some unions are spending against Democratic incumbents who voted no on healthcare reform.

Unions vowed to go after members who didn’t support the plan — and some are keeping that pledge.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), for instance, has spent almost $300,000 on direct mail and other activities in support of union activist Mac D’Alessandro’s primary challenge to Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.).

D’Alessandro and SEIU officials say he wasn’t recruited to run because of Lynch’s vote against the healthcare reform bill in March, but it’s been the main issue of his candidacy.

“I made a decision on my own, and what I like to say is that the only person who asked me to get into this race was Steve Lynch,” D’Alessandro told The Ballot Box.

He said healthcare wasn’t the only reason he decided to run, but rather was the “final straw.”

“It goes all the way back to his vote to authorize the war in Iraq and its continued funding time and time again, even as our economy here at home fell apart,” he said, also citing Lynch’s anti-abortion position.

Lynch wasn’t without union support. He was endorsed by the AFL-CIO during the primary, but the union didn’t make any independent expenditures on his behalf.

D’Alessandro maintains that support for Lynch among “working families” has dropped since he voted against healthcare reform.

“I’ve canvassed and door-knocked and talked to small-business owners in every city and town in this district, and there is a lot of frustration with Congressman Lynch’s vote on healthcare reform,” he said. “A lot of it.

“I think that his ‘no’ vote on healthcare was a vote against the interests of middle-income families, middle-class families, working families, not to mention small businesses,” he said. “Those are reforms that benefit a lot of working families in this district.”

Lynch’s campaign says concerns about government spending and the deficit are what the congressman hears about from his constituents.

“When Steve knocks on doors, he hears concerns about the healthcare reform bill and the Wall Street bailout, and the concern is with the positions Mac holds on both of those bills,” said Scott Ferson, a spokesman for Lynch’s campaign.

Ferson suggested D’Alessandro had been knocking on doors in Somerville and Cambridge, which are in the more liberal 8th district. “Thank God we’re running in the 9th,” Ferson said.

The Massachusetts primary is Tuesday.


Obama makes awaited endorsement in New Orleans House race

President Obama passed over Republican Rep. Joseph Cao (La.), with whom he has a friendly relationship, to endorse Cao’s Democratic opponent, Cedric Richmond.

Calling Richmond an “outstanding representative for this district,” Obama said he looks forward “to working with Cedric in the next Congress because he believes in our shared agenda of increasing access to quality, affordable healthcare and investing in job creation.”

Cao was the lone GOP vote in favor of healthcare reform during an early vote on legislation, but he opposed the bill.

Richmond had been working the West Wing to get the endorsement. “I’ve told his staff it would be a tremendous help,” he told The Ballot Box in August.

Cao’s seat is considered the most likely Democrat pickup during what is expected to be a tough election cycle for the party.


McCain, Palin stand on opposite sides of Maryland primary

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday endorsed former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary, pitting him against his former presidential running mate, Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate endorsed Republican investor Brian Murphy, a once-little-known candidate who is mounting a primary challenge against Ehrlich.

McCain told The Associated Press that Ehrlich is a “fine guy” and that he is backing his shot at another term in office.

The Maryland governor’s primary is one of the first in which McCain and Palin have found themselves supporting opposing candidates.

Palin has endorsed a number of candidates in key primary races who have courted the backing of the conservative Tea Party movement. In other contests, Palin had backed establishment office-seekers. She endorsed McCain in his primary contest against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who tried (and failed) to channel Tea Party support to knock off the 2008 GOP presidential nominee.

Murphy is running to the right of Ehrlich, who lost to Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2006 and is trying to win back his position. The primary election is Tuesday.

—Jordan Fabian

Miller and D’Aprile are campaign reporters for The Hill. They can be found on The Hill’s Ballot Box, located at