Quantcast
Connect with us

US miners’ union to endorse two more Democrats in coal country

Published

on

The main U.S. coal miners’ union is set to endorse two Democrats running for Congress in West Virginia, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday – a boost for Democrats trying to win over a constituency that voted heavily for Republican Donald Trump in 2016.

The United Mine Workers of America on Friday will endorse Richard Ojeda for U.S. Representative in the state’s third district, as well as incumbent Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat and former West Virginia governor, the sources said. They asked not to be named as they were discussing a confidential matter.

ADVERTISEMENT

The union sees Ojeda and Manchin as supportive of major issues facing coal miners, particularly efforts to preserve their pensions, the sources said. In addition, neither candidate has fully embraced the Democratic Party’s push for climate regulation, a sticking point for miners.

Trump’s White House win in 2016 was due in part to his promise to revive the ailing coal industry, which has lost more than 40 percent of its work force in less than a decade, by rolling back environmental regulation. While his administration has chipped away at regulations, the coal sector remains in the doldrums, under pressure from cheaper and cleaner natural gas, more than a year into Trump’s presidency.

Republican control of Congress will be at stake in midterm elections in November, when all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 Senate seats will be up for grabs.

The endorsements in West Virginia this week follow the union’s support for Conor Lamb in a special election for a House seat in Pennsylvania that he won earlier this month.

Political observers have said that upset could be a bellwether for future races in areas that had supported Trump. The UMWA had organized a rally, door-to-door canvassing, and phone bank operations for Lamb.

ADVERTISEMENT

UMWA President Cecil Roberts told Reuters that Lamb – a former Marine who wore work boots while talking with voters – won because he focused on protecting miners’ pensions, which are at risk of insolvency due to bankruptcies and mine closures.

“That’s how Conor Lamb was able to swing those voters to his side,” Roberts said.

Roberts said Ojeda, a tough-talking former Army paratrooper who comes from a long line of coal miners, reminded him of Lamb.

ADVERTISEMENT

‘FIST FIGHT FOR WORKERS’
The UMWA has endorsed about three more Republicans than Democrats in House races so far in this cycle. But the tally will likely become evenly split between the two parties in the coming months as the union looks to races in Ohio, Colorado, and Arizona, said one of the sources.

It is unclear how much the endorsements will help the candidates, but miners are seen as an influential political constituency, particularly in Appalachia – the epicenter of the U.S. coal industry.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ojeda, currently a state senator in West Virginia who is seen as a favorite in a Democratic primary to pick the party’s candidate on May 8, faces a tough election battle in his heavily Republican southern West Virginia district.

Trump won the district by 49 percentage points against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Ojeda himself voted for Trump. Ojeda did not comment about the coming endorsement, but said in an brief interview, “I’m going to fist fight for workers who have been neglected.”

Ojeda has said he supports more coal mining, especially to fuel steel furnaces, but also backs biofuels, solar and wind power.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2016, the UMWA endorsed a Republican in Ojeda’s district, Evan Jenkins, who is retiring to run for the U.S. Senate.

Manchin, meanwhile, has long been the Democratic Party’s strongest supporter of coal interests, advocating more production and backing controversial subsidy proposals. But several Republicans are lining up against him in the midterm elections.

Among them is Don Blankenship, a former coal company executive who served a year-long prison sentence for conspiring to violate safety standards at the Upper Big Branch mine – where 29 miners died in 2010.

Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the coming endorsement.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Democratic National Committee is not endorsing candidates before the primary votes, but the organization likes what it sees in coal country.

“Focusing on middle class families, on American workers, in these Appalachian and more rural areas is something that is successful for Democratic candidates to run on,” said Elizabeth Renda, a DNC spokeswoman.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Frances Kerry


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

New Jersey Governor unloads on ‘pathetic’ Blue Dog Dem switching parties: ‘He put politics over the constitution’

Published

on

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy blasted Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) for being "pathetic" after reports he would become a Republican.

Murphy, a Democrat, was interviewed by MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian on Sunday.

"I think it's ridiculous," Murphy said.

'He put politics over the constitution," he continued. "He's trying to be cute instead of being courageous."

"I think it's outrageous. this is a guy who is trying to find a path to get re-elected to Congress, not trying to find a path to do the right thing," Murphy said.

and we've seen it all over new jersey, all around the country, folks who stand up with conviction and courage and state their case more often than not, far more often enough folks say notwithstanding how tense and passionate this discussion is, they get credit for that, as opposed to cutting and running.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Rep Ocasio-Cortez blasts complexity of health care marketplace: ‘No one should go through this’

Published

on

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted the complexity of the health care marketplace on the day of the deadline to sign up for 2020 coverage.

Health care has been a major topic in the 2020 Democratic primary, with some moderate candidates defending the Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama, while progressive candidates push for Medicare for All.

"Members of Congress also have to buy their plans off the exchange," she explained. "That means I get to 'choose' [between] 66 complex financial products."

"This is absurd. No person should go without healthcare, and no one should go through this, either," she argued.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Hallmark Channel reverses course and apologies for caving to anti-LGBTQ group

Published

on

The Hallmark Channel reversed course after a boycott resulted from the network caving to an anti-LGBTQ group.

On Saturday, #BoycottHallmark trended on Twitter nationwide after the network refused to show ads featuring two women kissing after being married.

Continue Reading