Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Nevada Culinary Workers Endorsement

Per Marc Ambinder, Obama is expected to get the much-coveted Culinary Workers union endorsement in Nevada despite Hillary's win last night. He has also received the somewhat less important Service Employees International Union endorsement. Since the endorsement isn't official yet, I probably should hold commenting on it for the moment, but I won't.

At first glance the move by the Culinary Workers doesn't make that much sense. Hillary holds much more sway over the Democratic party machine. As long as she has a strong chance at the nomination she is not a candidate that the union wants to annoy. On top of that, there is the fact that Obama has been unusually willing to criticize unions on occasion just like he would any other interest group.

Of course the Culinary Workers are a powerful union considered essential to victory in the Nevada Dem primary. If indeed they are powerful enough to decide the outcome of the Nevada primary, they could create an overpowering momentum for Obama (it seems safe to assume that he will win the SC primary). Additionally, that union includes a massive percentage of immigrants, for whom Obama is a far superior candidate.

The Culinary Workers have to have a couple of priorities, as would any union. However, all their priorities are meaningless if the Dem candidate fails to win in the general election. With McCain's victory last night, he becomes the front-runner for the GOP nomination; he is also the candidate who is most capable of beating a Democrat, and especially of beating Sen. Clinton. By endorsing Obama, they may have decided that their power is best used to push for the candidate most likely to win in November rather than the candidate who would support their agenda (at least vis a vis employers) in toto. This decision is probably made possible by the fact that Obama's stronger pro-immigrant position counterbalances Hillary's stronger overall position with respect to unions.