Saturday, July 2, 2011

Employee Free Choice Act – The campaign issue Paul Hodes wishes would go away

October 19, 2010 by Shawn Millerick  
Filed under Business

There’s an issue that is bothering the heck out of Democrats on the campaign trail this cycle. It’s a liberal pet legislative project that the majority of Americans oppose, but most Democrats in Congress support, although several key Dems have tried to back away from their position recently. No, it’s not Obamacare, it’s the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that allows unions to be organized by a public “card check” vote instead of the traditional secret ballot election, and creates a whole new federal bureaucracy to arbitrate union contracts in the private sector.

The issue has largely flown under the radar until recently, mainly drawing attention from business groups like the U.S. Chamber and NFIB, and of course the Big Labor bosses that pushed it in the first place. Democrats were clearly hoping it would stay that way, at least until after the midterms. No such luck guys – in an election cycle dominated by jobs and the economy, GOP candidates have seized on EFCA as a measure that would hurt job growth and small businesses. Consequently, endangered Democrats are increasingly making the calculation that this is just one part of the Pelosi agenda they can’t afford to be tied to and are jumping ship. Both West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet have come out against EFCA in the past 10 days.

EFCA has also received a surprising amount of attention in the NH races so far, particularly in the debates (see here and here). However, waffling on the issue isn’t as option for Granite State Dems, since Reps. Hodes and Shea-Porter both co-sponsored the bill in the House. While Shea-Porter rubberstamping Pelosi’s policy agenda is expected, this development puts poor Paul Hodes between a rock and a hard place. He’s up with TV ads that seem aimed at making voters forget he’s a Democrat, yet he’s got almost $200K of Big Labor money in his campaign coffers, so its hardly surprising that he’s towing the union line when it comes to EFCA.

The EFCA issue came up again in Monday’s Manchester Chamber/AARP debate, with Kelly Ayotte calling it a major area of distinction between her and Hodes. Ayotte’s primary opponent Ovide Lamontagne made card check one of his campaign issues, and Ayotte’s rhetoric made it sound like she could do the same. It’s clearly a vulnerable spot for Hodes and other Democrats, and could end up being the final nail in the Paul Hodes coffin.

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