by Max Brantley
Politico rounds up the Republican edge in money this election cycle, particularly among so-called independent spenders. The right-wing has mobilized faster to take advantage of the Supreme Court green light for corporate spending. And then there are some traditional Democratic backers who've not fallen in line.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, for instance, “will contribute to efforts of other entities, but to a lesser degree than last cycle,” said its deputy political director Ricky Feller, who said the union plans to spend a total of $50 million on its 2010 election efforts. “Post Citizens United, AFSCME is currently using soft dollars to fund express advocacy ads in federal elections.”
That hasn’t been entirely good news for the Democratic establishment. In one of organized labor’s first major races post-Citizens United, a POLITICO analysis of FEC records found unions spent $3.1 million (the lion’s share of which came from Feller’s union) working against Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, a White House-backed conservative Democrat, who fended off a June primary challenge from Bill Halter, a favorite of organized labor.
Feller did not respond to a question about Obama administration criticisms that labor’s cash would have better served the cause had it been spent in the general election supporting Democrats against Republicans. But a spokesman for the larger AFL-CIO pushed back aggressively after Lincoln fended off Halter in June.
"Labor isn't an arm of the Democratic Party,” Eddie Vale told POLITICO. “It exists to support working families.”