POLS ON THE STREET: AFL-CIO Worked Where It Counts

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BY JOE SHAHEELI/ The national AFL-CIO reports its affiliates have successfully registered almost half a million new voters from union households.

According to Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO political director, “This is the first time we’ve made this big an effort to increase registration. We’re really proud more union members are going to be engaged. Whoever they vote for, the fact is we’re increasing civic participation.” It is obvious the union effort was to register Democrats.

MARKING “Indigenous Day Celebration” at Clara Muhammad Park in W. Phila. was host State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown with this group of various Indian tribes. She is in first row, center, next to Matron Pocahontas Turquoise Sunrise. Photo by Leona Dixon

“That’s an amazing number,” said Paul Beck, a political science professor at Ohio State University. “In an era of declining union membership, one wouldn’t think there would be many new targets out there.”

The tally includes about 68,000 new voters in Ohio — one of the most-contested battleground states this year — and thousands of other union-friendly voters in swing states like Colorado and Nevada. Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a little more than 200,000 votes in Ohio in 2008 out of about 5 million votes cast in the state. In 2008, exit polls showed 59% of voters who lived in union households backed Obama, while 39% supported McCain.

Union-household voters split similarly in the previous two presidential elections. Voters from union households have traditionally favored Democratic candidates.

Podhorzer said the registration plan began in March 2011, when the labor federation began matching lists of union-household members with voter-registration files from every state. It then identified about 2.3 million people living in households of active and retired union members who were not registered to vote. Union leaders hoped to register at least 20% of that number. That would raise the estimated overall union-household registration from 70% to 75% of eligible voters.

The task was easier in states like Ohio, where union density is highest. In Pennsylvania, for example, Podhorzer said the AFL-CIO registered 57,000 new voters from union households. But the federation also made gains in other swing states, registering 13,500 in Colorado, 10,000 in Nevada and 6,700 in Virginia.

Unions have been trying to maintain their relevance as major political players amid years of steady declines in membership. The voter-registration drive could help labor leaders maximize their impact with the numbers they have.

Most of the registration work was done by the federation’s 56 affiliated unions, which represent about 9 million workers with collective-bargaining agreements.

Unions expect to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help Obama and other mostly Democrat candidates for state and federal office win election. The AFL-CIO is devoting most of its attention to six battleground states: Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“I think there is an enthusiasm among these voters, a feeling that unions are embattled these days,” said Beck. “Given what’s happened to unions since 2010, they may be more energized than normal to vote for a Democratic candidate.”

ENJOYING fundraiser for State Sen. Vincent Hughes, right, at Leows Hotel were State Sen. Jeff Harbison, 2nd from left, and members of Hughes’ staff. Photo by Leona Dixon

SOME SEE POLLS TO BE TILTED

Seven out of 10 Republicans believe opinion polls are skewed to favor President Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney according to another poll about polls.

The numbers for the electorate overall are almost evenly split, with 42% of voters as a whole saying polls are biased for the President, and 40% saying they are not, according to the survey for Daily Kos website. Pollsters deny the charges.

One website, www.unskewed polls.com, claims polls tilt to Romney. But Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports claims, “There is not a pollster in the country, not a public pollster, not a legitimate pollster anywhere, who was deliberately skewing the polls.”

Still a survey showed 71% of Republicans, and 84% of those who identified themselves as Tea Party followers, believe polling companies are skewing their results to help Obama. Just 14% of Democrats said the same.

RENDELL BLESSES DUNBAR IN 177TH

Ed Rendell continues his endorsement spree, this time backing William Dunbar over State Rep. John Taylor.

“I’ve been following Wil­liam’s campaign and know of the determination and fight that he has to be successful so he can bring about the necessary change needed for the progression of this state. Pennsylvania needs a public servant who can bring that same fight and determination to Harrisburg; and the citizens of this great state deserve it,” Rendell said.

CORBETT’S MILLSTONE IS NAMED SANDUSKY

Democrats believe Gov. Tom Corbett can be taken down if an investigation can be launched into his handling of the Sandusky scandal when he was then Attorney General.

Almost able to get it done in this lame-duck session of the General Assembly was a successful discharge resolution which dumped HR 250 on the floor for consideration. But the Republican majority successfully held off a vote, walking off the floor to prevent one. It is expected this last week will have seen a continued stalemate with no further legislation passing the House. Even if it had passed, the Resolution would have died in the Senate with its 10-vote GOP majority.

Whatever, this millstone will grow heavier for Corbett and he needs to address it thoroughly now and free himself from it in his reelection campaign.

DA Seth Williams and Marion Wimbush check out efforts of Democrat volunteers as they urge voters to make sure they vote for President Obama election day.

DEBATE CHALLENGES ARE NO LONGER NEWSWORTHY

Many challengers need to learn polls and general media to have a decent chance at toppling an incumbent, they are wasting time calling for debates. Highly favored incumbents won’t accept debates for a host of reasons, foremost being not to give unnecessary exposure to the opponent, who would probably be short of cash anyway and not able to buy the publicity.

Least likely to accept challenges are incumbents in State House or Senate races, since it is likely their district voters haven’t seen much of the opponents except when they come canvassing. So when challenges to debate are issued, they are seldom reported. This applies to congressional races as well. Few have challengers with some momentum.

The only one considered on the radar in Philadelphia is the Joe Rooney challenge to Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz for a debate. He is charging she has not been able to move legislation, in which she is the lead sponsor, in “all the years she has been in Congress.”

It is similar to US senatorial GOP challenger Tom Smith’s campaign charges against incumbent Sen. Bob Casey. Odds are there won’t be a debate in this race either, though Smith has been elevate his campaign due to an infusion of millions in TV ads. TV networks have been pressing for one to take place.

PENNA.SMALL BUSINESSES ENDORSE SMITH

CONGRESSMAN Jim Gerlach and US Senatorial candidate Tom Smith, among were among those who appeared with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he appeared at Valley Forge, are asking him to return. They don’t concede Penna. to Obama. Photo by Bonnie Squires

The National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s small-business association, has endorsed Tom Smith for the United States Senate.

“Bob Casey has voted consistently in favor of the big special interests and against the interests of Pennsylvania small businesses,” said Kevin Shivers, NFIB Pennsylvania state director. “Small business owners in Pennsylvania need a Senator who will be more independent and committed to getting the federal government off their backs.”

LIBERTY CITY ANNOUNCES ITS PICKS

Philadelphia’s chief gay political-action body, Liberty City, has endorsed the following: Bob Casey, US Senate; Robert Brady, Congress, 1st Dist.; George Badey, Congress, 7th Dist.; Kathy Boockvar, Congress, 8th Dist.; Daylin Leach, State Senate, 17th; Kelly Devine, State Rep., 150th; Will Sylianteng, State Rep., 151st; and Jim Roebuck, State Rep., 188th.

CONSERVATIVE VETS ENDORSE MANSFIELD

The Washington-based Combat Veterans for Congress PAC has endorsed 76th Combat Veteran Sgt. Robert A. Mansfield in his race as the Republican nominee challenging Congressman Chaka Fattah in the 2nd Congressional Dist.

SANTORUM NATURALLY MAKES ENDORSEMENTS

Former Republican presidential candidate and now Chairman of Patriot Voices PAC Rick Santorum has endorsed Tom Smith among three his PAC will be supporting. The other two are Wendy Long in New York and Josh Mandel In Ohio. His local endorsements include Republicans David Freed, Candidate for Attorney General; John Maher, candidate for Auditor General; and Diana Irey Vaughan, candidate for State Treasurer.

DR. HORWITZ HOSTS CANDIDATE FORUMS

Dr. Ruth K. Horwitz, former longtime committeewoman in the 58th Ward, is moderating two Candidate Forums this month: Thursday, Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Delaire Landing Condos, and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 9 a.m., this one with a free full brunch at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, Verree Road above Welsh.

An attorney, Dr. Horwitz was recently appointed to serve on the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging Advisory Council, due to her work as an Elder Law Attorney, working with senior citizens and their families.

JUSTICE MELVIN’S TRIAL SET FOR JAN.

Suspended State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin’s trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 23.

Allegheny Co. Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus, who was assigned to the case in August, set the date for the trial on seven charges, including theft of services, conspiracy, official oppression and misapplication of entrusted funds.

STATE G.O.P. WANTS ROMNEY BACK IN PA.

State Republican leadership is pushing the Romney Campaign to air TV ads and to bring the candidate in for a couple more visits. They discount the polls, feeling a Romney presence will tighten the gap and for sure make it easier for some of their congressional and statewide candidates to weather the Obama coattails.

STILL LOW ON CORBETT’S RADAR

Philadelphia still scores low with the Governor, as only three of its citizens were among 28 appointments and nominations made by Corbett to various agencies around the Commonwealth this week.

The three are attorney Linda Kerns to State Board of Nursing, attorney Cristina Cavalieri to State Transportation Commission and Jeffrey Runge to the Cosmetic Board. The paucity of Philly appointments continues.

JOHNSON GOES WITH BLOG RADIO

Anthony Johnson, former candidate, author, and school founder, is hosting a weekly show on youtube/CO57ABAvBY8 every Thursday at 9 p.m.

It’s a forum for politics and anything else his viewers wish to discuss. For information, call him at (247) 308 8613.

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