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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Repeat of 1972?

       The head of the state's largest labor union got a nice media pop this past week when he suggested union members could decided who wins the race to the White House in Michigan.
        According to AFL-CIO president Mark Gaffney union voters make up about 40% of the voting population but the days of those voters marching in lock step to the polls is but a fading memory.
        In the days of Walter Ruther and maybe Leonard Woodcock, when the labor leaders told the rank and file what to do, most of them did.
        Try that now and see what happens.
        When Jennifer Granholm ran against Dick DeVos almost one out of five union folks went with the Amway guy.
        And even Gaffney concedes he'd be happy if 75% of his members plunked for Barack Obama in November. In essence he is conceding 25% of the labor vote to McCain.
        Labor leaders started losing full control over their membership back in 1972 when a guy named George Corley Wallace rambled into the Michigan Presidential Primary.  He brought along his volatile segregationist and race baiting past and a message that many blue-collar workers cottoned up to.
        And when they counted the votes, Wallace won.  Of course he had help from about one third of the GOP voters who crossed over into the open Democratic primary to give ole George Corley a pat on the back.
        Union leaders such as Doug Fraser, who ran the UAW, we're aghast that the seemingly progressive state of Michigan would make such an unprogressive statement.
 =C 2      Who knows what might have happened if Wallace had not been shot in the next primary in Maryland?  But the Michigan for Wallace vote remains a stain on the state's image.
         Gaffney is hoping that another racist's stain does not emerge this November regarding Barack Obama. 
         Asked if Obama loses here, could racism be the reason?
         "It could be. It's hard to say," he opined.


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