Democratic gubernatorial candidate State Attorney General Jim Doyle may have won last Tuesday's Democratic primary, but he still has yet to win the support of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.
The state labor body, who has in elections almost always backed Democratic candidates, concluded its statewide convention in Madison this past Wednesday without making a decision on endorsements in the race for governor. A big reason for the delay is the fact that Doyle, if elected, has pledged to eliminate more than 11,000 state jobs to help alleviate the state's budget problem, according Gary Hammen, member of the state AFL-CIO executive board.
\Some people had some concerns in that area,"" Hammen said. ""It is not something we want to jump into immediately. We intend to have another endorsement meeting on Thursday.""
Doyle would like to see the number of state workers return back to the size it was 16 years ago when the Republicans took over, according to Bill Christofferson, a Doyle staff member, adding that Doyle is optimistic that this will not affect the AFL-CIO's ultimate decision.
""We hope to have the AFL-CIO endorsement. The support of the working people is very important to the Doyle campaign and we expect to get it,"" Christofferson said.
Gov. Scott McCallum's camp agreed that Doyle will most likely end up winning the endorsement.
""I do know they had some serious questioning with the direction Jim Doyle was taking, but I would assume in the end that they would probably back him,"" said Debbie Monterey-Millet, McCallum's communication director.
Despite AFL-CIO concerns, Doyle's stance on the issue is not changing and he will not negotiate or make any deals in order to get their support, Christofferson said, adding that even without the official backing of the AFL-CIO, Doyle still has a significant amount of labor support.
""There's a long list of most of the major unions in the state who already have endorsed Doyle,"" Christofferson said. ""The AFL-CIO is the umbrella organization and most of its affiliates already support him. So we certainly expect that with or without the AFL-CIO umbrella endorsement we are going to have an enormous amount of labor support.""
An announcement is expected on Thursday on whether the organization will endorse Doyle and Barbara Lawton, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who too has drawn some criticism from unionist bodies.