A lot of of endorsements don’t mean much. Electricians Local 98, based in Philadelphia, is an exception.
It has, by far, the biggest-spending political committee in the state. Wednesday, the union endorsed U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz in her quest for the Democratic nomination for governor, giving her $100,000 for her campaign.
Union business manager John Dougherty told me he likes Schwartz’s policies and her style. “She has old school in her, but if you look at her vision, her vision’s good,” he said.
I was going to ask Dougherty why he chose her over state Treasurer Rob McCord, another candidate with plenty of union backing including several electricians’ locals around the state. Before I could get to the question, Dougherty said that when the union’s political director Bobby Henon was running for City Council in 2011, McCord, whom he called a friend, “really didn’t want to get involved.”
“Hey, you know she was willing to jump in the middle of a primary and support Bobby Henon,” Dougherty said. “And we don’t forget that stuff at Local 98. You’re good to us, we’re good to you.”
I asked if the $100,000 was all Schwartz could expect from the union (as if). “It’s only the beginning,” said Dougherty, recalling how generously the union had supported Ed Rendell when he ran for governor.
I noted that after Local 98 spent more than $200,000 on that campaign, Rendell had appointed Dougherty to the board of the influential Delaware River Port Authority, and that another union official was named a deputy secretary of labor and industry for the commonwealth. I asked what he would say to those who might regard his support for Schwartz as a bid for future influence.
“I make no bones about it,” Dougherty said. ” I represent working-class people, people who want to get benefits, who need apprenticeship training and retirement funds. That’s what I do for a living, and I do it well.”
While Local 98’s backing is a boost for Schwartz, who has led in early polls, she’ll have competition in the money race. McCord has many union endorsements and has proven fundraising capacity, and businessman Tom Wolf’s campaign announced yesterday it has raised nearly $2.855 million, in addition to the $10 million Wolf and his wife have contributed to the effort.
There are no dollar limits on campaign contributions in Pennsylvania.