In an endorsement battle that went all the way to the delegate floor at the California Labor Federation meeting in Los Angeles yesterday, Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jason Hodge prevailed over fellow Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson in their 19th Senate District race.
Hodge had received the recommendation of the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council, but Jackson supporters appealed that decision to the state federation. There were grumblings among some unions that have backed Jackson, including the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, that Hodge should not receive the labor federation's support because he has been promoting himself as "the Democrat who doesn't think you need higher taxes" -- at a time when those unions are mobilizing in support of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative targeted for the November ballot.
For the record, Hodge told me yesterday that he supports the compromise initiative Brown is now backing, but had not supported the governor's initial proposal, which included a higher sales tax increase. "I support the governor's temporary tax initiative," Hodge said.
Hodge credited the support of unions in the building trades for helping to secure his endorsement. "The private sector unions -- the ones that need jobs to put money in their wallets -- are what put me over the top," he said.
In other endorsements, Camarillo Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, for the second consecutive election cycle, was the only Republican Assembly candidate to receive Labor Federation support. The group issued a dual endorsement in the 44th Assembly District, backing both Gorell and Democrat Tom Mullens.
There was only one other Republican -- Les Baugh in the First Senate District -- among the 133 legislative and congressional candidates to be endorsed by the Labor Federation. In addition, one independent -- Tom Phillips in the 23rd Congressional District -- received the labor group's backing.
The Labor Federation, which represents 2.1 million union workers in California, intends to provide substantial grassroots supports to its endorsed candidates.
"In a time of unprecedented challenges facing working people, this year's elections are pivotal to the direction of our state," said Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski in a press release. "The core of our election program is the dedication and commitment of thousands of volunteers reaching millions of voters with vital information about candidates' positions and measures impacting workers. In an era of Citizens United, labor's grassroots program is more critical than ever to counterbalance the unlimited political spending and power of well-heeled corporate interests."