In my view, AFSCME Council 5’s endorsement of DFLer Mark Dayton for governor is the most significant event in the DFL gubernatorial stakes to date.
As I wrote a month ago, AFSME Council 5 (at about 43,000 members), is known for its propensity to endorse early, and then back its endorsements with feet on the street. For example, AFSCME Council 5 endorsed Al Franken over Mike Ciresi a year before the U.S. Senate race’s DFL endorsing convention. More recently, the union endorsed Sen. Tarryl Clark (DFL-St. Cloud) over Elwyn Tinklenberg this summer in the DFL contest in the 6th Congressional District. (And it hardly seemed a coincidence when Tinklenberg withdrew from the race 24 hours later.) In DFL circles, the AFSCME Council 5 endorsement matters, and many attribute its importance to the union’s highly visible, highly vocal and hard-working executive director, Eliot Seide.
This morning I checked in with AFSCME’s communications director, Jennifer Munt, who told me that at Saturday’s candidate screening, Dayton “struck members like a bottle … they are convinced he can win.”
For AFSCME, a DFLer winning the gubernatorial race is everything, and the ability to win was a huge part of its endorsement decision. Munt says AFSCME members are starting to organize — now — people who will go to precinct caucuses for both Dayton and Clark. [Remember, the DFL will have a gubernatorial straw poll at its precinct caucuses.]
Munt also pointed out something I’d long forgotten. One of the reasons that Dayton is so popular among more senior AFSCME members is that Dayton didn’t draw a U.S. Senate salary and instead applied the money to those prescription drug runs to Canada that he organized for seniors. [Seniors have better memories than I do, obviously.]
One of the most fascinating aspects of the DFL contest is gender. [We wrote about this in last Friday’s Weekly Report, and I’ll post that story later this week.] After I talked to Munt — who not surprisingly declined to talk about gender and what that means for the DFL contest — I talked to my own AFSCME moles, the female ones. They don’t seem to care much about gender, a factor that another DFL candidate for governor, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL-Minneapolis), is banking on. According to these AFSCME women, Kelliher is “too cautious a leader … can’t sell her ideas … represents failure in the Legislature last year and most likely this coming year, too.”
In my view, the dissing of gender is a good thing. We should be long past judging candidates on the content of their lower attire (pants or skirts), as opposed to the content of their candidacies.
AFSCME and Dayton are holding a press conference at the Capitol early this aft. I’ll post more if anything interesting develops.