Joe Biden to kick off presidential bid with speech to union workers
Biden, who joined the 2020 Democratic race last week, is counting on organised labour to comprise a significant part of his support, but in spite of his longstanding ties to unions, it may not be that easy.
The Democratic field now features 20 contenders, many of whom are making furtive bids for backing by labour.
“This may be the most pro-union group of candidates we’ve seen in decades making it tougher for any one candidate to line up significant union support,” said Steve Rosenthal, a former Political Director.
Rosenthal is a former Political Director for the AFL-CIO, who is advising unions on their 2020 strategies.
Biden, 76, has long styled himself as a champion of blue-collar workers, but his record as a U.S. senator and his two terms serving as former President Barack Obama’s No. 2 may complicate his efforts to draw union voters.
As a senator from Delaware, Biden supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has become a sore point with unions that blame it for jobs going overseas.
As vice president, he was part of an administration that promulgated labour-friendly regulatory policies, but also pushed through trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea over the objections of several unions and many other Democrats.
A massive 12-nation trade deal backed by Obama and Biden, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was opposed by labour and became an issue in the 2016 presidential race, when Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, used it to criticise Democratic policies.
Once Trump became president, he pulled the U.S. out of the TPP, which went into effect in 2018.
His administration currently is advocating for Congress to pass a negotiated replacement for NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Even as Biden was preparing for his Pittsburgh launch, six other Democratic candidates on Saturday addressed union members at an event in Las Vegas, pledging support for policies such as a 15 dollars federal minimum wage.
Labour unions have indicated that, with the sprawling Democratic field, they have the luxury to choose candidates, who tailor policies to their specific goals.
“Working people are heading into this election with a high bar,” said John Weber, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO in Washington.
“Your trade policy shouldn’t be about reducing the collateral damage of harmful corporate trade deals. It should be about replacing them with agreements that actually strengthen working families.”
In Pittsburgh, Biden will address the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and is expected to lay out his vision for bolstering the nation’s middle class.
After that, he will head off on a campaign trip to the early voting state of Iowa.
While organised labour has lost political clout with the decline of industrial jobs in America, it remains a key Democratic constituency, valued for its capacity to mobilise voters.
At this juncture, Biden may have to worry most about Sen. Bernie Sanders, who, along with Biden, sits atop public opinion polls concerning the 2020 field.
Sanders, a progressive, who consistently has railed against free-trade agreements, showed surprising strength among rank-and-file union members during his 2016 presidential primary challenge to Hillary Clinton.
At the time Clinton received the formal endorsement of most national unions.
That divide within unions between Clinton and Sanders is one reason, Rosenthal said, why some unions this time may wait deep into the primary process before endorsing a candidate – or may not endorse one at all.
“Because so many unions rushed to endorse Secretary Clinton in 2016, there will likely be a much more thorough process, including more rank-and-file input from some unions this cycle,” he said.
To be sure, Biden can rely on some measure of union support.
He was warmly received in speeches earlier this year to the electrical workers and firefighters unions.https://nnn.ng/joe-biden-to-kick-off-presidential-bid-with-speech-to-union-workers/
Joe Biden wins Washington presidential primary
Former Vice President Joe Biden has won Washington’s presidential primary, further cementing his status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As of Monday afternoon, Biden led with nearly 38 per cent of the statewide vote, compared with about 36 per cent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
There was a gap of 23,000 votes. Biden’s lead had expanded since the two rivals ended election night March 10 in a virtual tie.
The delayed victory – which came amid record turnout for a Washington presidential primary – means Biden won five of the six states that voted March 10.
In addition to Washington, he won Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri. Sanders won North Dakota.
Washington has 89 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention at stake – the second most of any state that voted last week.
It’s not a winner-take-all system, and the delegate breakdown between Biden and Sanders will depend on results from the state’s 10 congressional districts.
Will Casey, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said the party would know the delegate split once the election is certified next week.
The Associated Press and New York Times called the race for Biden after 5:00 p.m. local time Monday after a new round of vote counts in King County and elsewhere showed Biden’s lead holding, and the vast majority of ballots counted statewide.
In a statement, the Biden campaign said, “Washingtonians sent a message to the rest of the country: This is the campaign that will send Donald Trump packing.”
A month ago, Sanders had been the leading candidate in a crowded field of Democrats competing for the chance to face President Donald Trump this fall.
The balance of the race shifted after Biden’s dominant victory in the South Carolina primary Feb. 29.
He followed that with a series of victories Super Tuesday, March 3, including in states Sanders had carried in 2016, such as Michigan and Minnesota – and now Washington.
“The fact that you have state after state that Sanders won in four years ago, but didn’t win in 2020, just really shows the kind of shift in the Democratic Party post-South Carolina,” said Dean Nielsen, a Seattle-based Democratic political consultant.
“I think Democrats looked around and decided Biden was more electable than Sanders, and cast their votes accordingly.’’
About 2.2 million votes had been counted in the March 10 primary as of Monday – or about 48 per cent of the state’s registered voters.
That set a record for a presidential primary here, beating out the 2000 primary that drew about 43 per cent.
More than 1.5 million of the votes were cast in the Democratic primary, which had 13 candidates on the ballot, compared with about 670,000 in the Republican primary, which included only Trump.
Sanders’ case for the nomination has rested in part on the argument he’d bring enthusiastic turnout among younger voters, but turnout nationally and here has not been enough to put him over the top.
Voters in the Democratic primary did skew substantially younger than among Republicans.
The median age of Democratic primary voters in King County – home to nearly one-third of voters – was 47, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. Among Republicans, it was 60.
There was also a substantial gender gap. About 56 per cent of Democratic voters statewide were women, compared with 49 per cent of those who chose the Republican ballot.
Biden’s victory came in spite of Sanders’ energetic core of volunteers in the state, many of them loyal since his 2016 presidential bid, when he fell short of the Democratic nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Tajudeen Atitebi