Two key unions in NY State have recently switched their endorsement from Congressman Randy Kuhl to Candidate Eric Massa.
In a striking move today, New York’s largest teachers union announced its endorsement of Retired Navy Commander Eric Massa for Congress, switching its long-time support from incumbent Randy Kuhl (R, NY-29). The union said that Kuhl, who the union has supported since early in his career in the NY State Legislature, has increasingly taken positions that are at odds with his constituents.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said that Massa, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a 24 year military veteran, offers a “fresh hope for New York’s working families who care about improving education, health care, and the upstate economy.”
Officials at the union expressed dismay at Kuhl’s lackluster record in Congress since winning the seat by a narrow margin in 2004. Alan B. Lubin, NYSUT Executive Vice President, commented: “Randy Kuhl’s record in Congress has been abysmal. He has lost his way,” Lubin said. “Instead of standing up to the extremists in his party and fighting for the best interests of his constituents, Kuhl has become a rubber stamp for the George Bush agenda. It’s time for a change.”
Before making its decision, the NYSUT political action committee analyzed 12 key bills voted on by the House of Representatives on issues important to NYSUT members and residents across the Southern Tier. The committee found that Kuhl voted “the wrong way” 11 out of 12 times, and consistently sided with House Leadership rather than acting in the best interests of the residents of the 29th District and union member teachers.
(NYSUT membership numbers – 575,000 active and retired teaachers and educational related personnel)
And from 8/15/06:
ALBANY, NY – For the second time in a week, a major labor organization announced its endorsement of Retired Navy Commander Eric Massa for Congress, switching support from incumbent Randy Kuhl (R, NY-29). The AFL-CIO, a federation of 53 labor unions, made the announcement following its annual meeting in Albany.
The endorsement, a major score for Massa, is another in a growing list of labor organizations, elected officials, and public figures that are endorsing or supporting Massa in his campaign to unseat Kuhl. Just four days ago, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) switched their long-time support from Kuhl to Massa. It is highly unusual for labor organizations to endorse a non-incumbent.
AFL-CIO representative Peggy Costello said, “In years past, we’ve based our endorsements on voting records. Randy Kuhl’s record in the NY State legislature was generally acceptable. In Congress, however, we rate his record as very weak, no more than 35% favorable to labor interests.”
These developments are certainly interesting and noteworthy; it is rare when an incumbent loses endorsements from organizations who have backed them in prior election cycles.