Politics

Liberal Union Backs Libertarian Candidate in Illinois Governor Race

Union: ‘Stakes couldn’t be higher for our union and we have to make sure Pat Quinn is elected’

AP

A large liberal union that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to reelect Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is now throwing its financial weight behind the Libertarian candidate in an apparent effort to pull votes away from Republican Bruce Rauner.

It was recently revealed that Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) will be conducting a large scale direct mail and robocall campaign to inform voters that Libertarian Chad Grimm is a more conservative candidate than Rauner.

Recent polls show that Grimm is pulling in around 7 percent of voters in a race that is becoming increasingly close between Rauner and Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.

Rauner has made himself an enemy of big labor for his plan to create right to work zones in Illinois, giving each local community the ability to decide whether workers need to be part of a union to get a job.

Last week, IOUE Local 150 contributed $30,000 to Grimm.

The union’s preferred candidate, however, is Quinn, and they have been very clear about that.

"The stakes couldn’t be higher for our union, and we have to make sure Pat Quinn is elected," read a flyer announcing an anti-Rauner phonebank organized by Local 150. "We will be calling other union members to make sure they are voting and to tell them to get active against union buster Bruce Rauner."

The union has contributed hundreds of thousands to Quinn so far this election.

The union claims that its support for Grimm is not an attempt to pull voters from Rauner, but a way to represent the various political values of its membership.

"Local 150 is an organization with a diverse membership, and we make great efforts to encourage our members to be politically active and to vote in every election," said communications director Ed Maher in a statement given to the Washington Free Beacon. "While a majority of our Illinois membership has indicated its support for Governor Pat Quinn, we are committed to offering a viable choice for members who do not support Democrats."

"Chad Grimm, the Libertarian candidate for governor, recognizes the value that unions add to Illinois’ economy and agrees that we accomplish more as a state when we focus on job creation instead of attacking unions," he said. "Grimm’s political values match those of a segment of our membership, and we therefore offered our support."

IOUE has spent more than $5 million already on the 2014 elections, and a large majority of it has gone to Democratic candidates and groups, or the outside spending groups that support them.

Republicans say that this is a "desperate" attempt by the union to keep their ally Quinn in office.

"The Union bosses are using every desperate trick they can in an attempt to save Pat Quinn because they know when Bruce Rauner is elected governor, the special interest bureaucrats they’ve relied on to fill their pockets for so long will gone," said Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson in a statement to the Free Beacon.

Grimm says his goal is not to be a spoiler in the race, but his support could prove to be disastrous for Rauner.

Grimm told the Free Beacon that the union told him they were offering support because their membership was politically split.

"They offered some support and I said okay," explained Grimm. "If somebody wants to contribute to my campaign, I have no problem with that. People are free to donate to any campaign they see fit."

Grimm said that his campaign has had major fundraising problems due to a legal challenge to his candidacy by Rauner that was not overruled until last month.

Grimm explained that the support from the union is tied to the fact that he does not believe in right to work laws because he believes that they infringe on the workers right to free association.

He also argued that his support comes from both right and left, and that it will not just be Rauner he steals votes from.

"Am I to the right of Bruce Rauner on some issues, yes, but I’m also to the left of Pat Quinn on issues," said Grimm.

The stamp of approval from a large labor union is often seen as a sure sign that the candidate is a liberal. The endorsement by AFL-CIO of independent candidate Greg Orman in Kansas, for example, was said to "bolster the GOP's case" that Orman is the liberal candidate in the race.