19th Senate District candidate Jason Hodge began his campaign against fellow Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson with an impressive early showing among organized labor, racking up both campaign contributions and endorsements -- including that of the Tri Counties Central Labor Council.
But that may be changing, thanks in large part to a piece of campaign literature that Hodge has been leaving on district doorknobs. It proclaims Hodge to be "The Democrat Who Doesn't Think You Need Higher Taxes."
As a stand-alone campaign strategy, it's fairly smart politics because it differentiates him from the label that Republican Tony Strickland and his allies relentlessly pinned on Jackson during their $11 million 2008 race: "Taxin' Jackson." The monicker was pinned on her by a disgraced and now departed editorial writer at the conservative Santa Barbara News-Press, and it seems to have stuck, if for no other reason that it sounds clever and evokes the title of the 1988 action film "Action Jackson."
But in the context of the 2012 campaign, Hodge's slogan rankles organized labor, which is rallying behind one or more initiatives that could be headed to the November ballot that will ask California voters to increase taxes to provide additional revenue to boost school spending.
The SEIU reported this week that a "town hall" process involving members in the districts resulted in an endorsement of Jackson. And sources tell me there are efforts afoot to deny Hodge the California Labor Federation federation endorsement when the statewide group meets this spring to consider whether to ratify the local labor caucus' decision to back Hodge.