In a somewhat surprising move, the AFL-CIO opted NOT to endorse a gubernatorial candidate “at this time.’’
In recent days, the DFL-endorsed candidate, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, has been picking up the endorsements of individual unions at an impressive rate. But this afternoon, a big one — the AFL-CIO endorsement — got away. (The AFL-CIO is the umbrella organization of more than 1,000 unions, representing about 300,000 workers in the state.)
Presumably, the AFL-CIO’s 70-member Committee on Political Education could not make a decision between Kelliher and Mark Dayton, who has managed to pick up some union support. A two-thirds majority was needed for endorsement. The organization would not say what the final tally among the candidates had been, though AFL-CIO president Shar Knutson said there was “a spirited’’ debate among committee members.
The other DFLer in the field, Matt Entenza, returned the long screening questionnaire, but did not participate in the actual screening. Independence candidate Tom Horner did screen, knowing he had little chance of gaining endorsement. The Republican’s endorsed candidate, Tom Emmer, was invited to participate but chose not to.
Knutson downplayed the group’s failure to put its resources behind a single candidate at this time. It will be a player by the general election, she said.
“At every turn, Tom Emmer has opposed job creation, opposed investing in students and opposed making health care afford,’’ she said in a statement. “ … Union members will work hard to elect a governor who puts middle class families first.’’
The announcement of “no endorsement’’ came at the end of the day of some confusion. A few hours before that announcement was released to the media, an announcement saying that the organization was endorsing Kelliher was sent to the media.
“A mistake,’’ an AFL-CIO spokesman said. “We had a number of different releases ready to send out and that one was sent by mistake.’’
Knutson said that it is still possible the organization will make an endorsement before the primary.
“Never say never,’’ she said.
In the meantime?
“We are blessed with a number of good candidates,’’ she said.