Portman picks up fourth union endorsement

Portman picks up fourth union endorsement
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Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSunday shows - Jan. 6 investigation dominates Senate Republican 'not happy' with Pelosi plan to delay infrastructure vote Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-Ohio) has been endorsed by Local 18 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the fourth endorsement he has received from a union that backed his opponent in previous races.

"Rob has proven time and again that he will do what it takes to protect Ohio families and fight for middle-class jobs and increased wages," Richard Dalton, business manager of the union, said in a news release. "No doubt, he is the leader Ohio needs in the U.S. Senate.”

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The campaign touted Portman's leadership on infrastructure and energy issues in a statement, adding that he has supported repealing the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health plans like the operating engineers'.

The campaign also noted that IUOE Local 18 endorsed Portman's Democratic challenger, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, when Strickland ran for governor in 2006.

“I’ve seen firsthand IUOE Local 18 workers training at facilities across Ohio and working to improve Ohio’s infrastructure. I’m honored to have their support and look forward to continuing to work with them in order to protect Ohio jobs and increase wages,” Portman said.

Portman has already received the endorsements of three other unions: The United Mine Workers of America, the Ohio Conference of Teamsters and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.

The Republican's campaign has been highlighting the endorsements in ads and announced Tuesday that it launched an advertising campaign worth at least $100,000 targeting union members.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report considers the Ohio Senate race to be a toss-up. The contest could be important in determining which party has a majority in the Senate next year. Democrats can take control of the chamber if they pick up five seats — or four if they keep control of the White House.

The Strickland campaign sought to downplay the latest endorsement, saying IUOE Local 18 has backed Republicans in the past and that the Democrat has received most of the union endorsements in the race.

“This local affiliate has a long record of supporting Republican candidates including Governor [John] Kasich so this is hardly noteworthy or surprising, but Ted Strickland has earned the support of the International Union of Operating Engineers as well as the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66," Strickland campaign spokesman David Bergstein said. 

"Ted has earned the endorsement of the overwhelming majority of labor unions like the United Auto Workers, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the Steelworkers and AFSCME because of his proven commitment to fighting for working families."