AFL-CIO and SEIU unions team up on campaign spending

Democrats are facing all sorts of bad news lately but will no doubt take solace in learning that the nation’s two largest and most-powerful unions are teaming up to defend their interests in the 2010 elections. It will be a tough task given the unpopularity of most of the major initiatives they’ve passed since President Obama came into office in 2009 but the leaders of the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union believe they’re up to the job:

The two labor organizations say they have a combined $88 million or more to deploy in this year’s election cycle. It’s not clear how much of that money they will pool together.

The renewed alliance between the two big labor groups comes as Democrats are battling to retain control of both houses of Congress. The AFL-CIO and SEIU plan to target elections in 26 states, all but five of which they consider battleground territory, including California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Most of the unions’ cash will be spent on behalf of Democrats, despite dissatisfaction among some union leaders and their members with the results of two years of Democratic control in Washington. While labor officials say unions haven’t received everything they’ve wanted from the administration, they blame Republicans and some Democrats for blocking legislative progress.

The union campaign organizations plan to contact 15 million people in union-member households to generate votes in races for Congress, governor and state legislatures.

Of course, this is the same crowd that spent $10 million dollars in the Arkansas primary election in a failed attempt to go after Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln that led one White House official to quip that “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise.”

It will be interesting to see what particular candidates the unions target for massive cash infusions.

Despite how it may seem, campaign money is only part of what it takes to win a race successfully, so in the end, the cash may not be enough to overwhelm other factors. That’s because campaigns that see large cash infusions by a small number of donors often neglect to do the things that requires large numbers of people to actually vote for them.

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