The International Operating Engineers Local 49 union has endorsed Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack’s re-election bid, the union announced Thursday night.
Earlier this week, the union held open meetings for members in the 8th District to hear from Cravaack and the three DFLers looking to replace him. After meeting with the candidates, “the strong majority voted to endorse Congressman Chip Cravaack,” according to a statement from the union.
Specifically, the union applauded Cravaack for voting against several attempts to dial back prevailing wage laws, as well as his support for construction projects such as the Keystone Pipeline, the Polymet mining project and a new St. Croix River bridge.
“When we took a look at Congressman Cravaack’s term in office, it became clear that he has done a good job of staying away from partisan Washington politics, and really focusing on bread and butter issues that are important to construction workers in his district,” the group said in a statement. “He is not afraid to stand up to his party when he disagrees with their direction, and his votes reflect that.”
Rick Nolan, Tarryl Clark and Jeff Anderson are running in a DFL primary to win the right to take on Cravaack in what has been a traditionally blue, and blue-collar, district. Cravaack upset long-time U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010, and he’s a top target for Democrats going into November.
The 49ers endorsed Oberstar in 2010, the group’s legislative and political director Jason George said, as well as DFLers Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Mark Dayton in that year’s gubernatorial race. Interestingly, the union endorsed one of Cravaack’s potential opponents, Clark, in her 2010 race against Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
The union endorsed a bipartisan slate of state legislative candidates this year (16 Republican and 10 DFL incumbents), and in announcing its endorsement of Cravaack said, “Ultimately the membership decided we needed to take our partisan hats off, keep political party affiliation out of it, and make an evidence based decision.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.