More on McNerney's Endorsements
I know this has been long in coming, but here are some additional thoughts about the endorsement of Jerry McNerney by the San Joaquin-Calaveras Central Labor Council. (Note, I referred to the group as the San Joaquin County Central Labor Council in my last post, but it appears that they include unions from Calaveras County, which is not part of the district). Hank Shaw from the Stockton Record picked up the story in today’s paper. He provides a quote that I think captures a dynamic in the primary battle:
Gene Davenport of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 54 says his union and the San Joaquin-Calaveras Central Labor Council have endorsed McNerney instead of Filson.
"We were with McNerney in the last election," Davenport said. "We know what he stands for."
Davenport said he was upset the DCCC would arbitrarily anoint a candidate without discussing it with local labor groups first.
"They more or less said this is how it's going to be," he said. "I don't particularly like the way they think they can do business."
Here Davenport is voicing a concern shared by many Democratic activists, including many who are still neutral about the primary. I have heard many say that their main objection to Filson at this point is their feeling that he has been imposed on the district by Ellen Tauscher and the DCCC, who did not consult with local Democrats about Filson before they (Tauscher and the D-trip) decided to back him.
Note, this is a fairly non-ideological concern. In my experience, I’ve heard it voiced much more than ideological concerns about Filson. This is important because there seems to be an assumption that Democratic activists only will support a Barbara Lee of the Central Valley. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone wants to beat Pombo and everyone understands that the district leans Republican, which means that pragmatic concerns necessarily mitigate strongly against abstract desires for ideological purity.
Whatever you think about Filson’s chances against Pombo, it’s hard to argue that he should not have at least introduced himself to grassroots leaders before contacting the newspapers about his candidacy. And after it became apparent that this was a problem, there were probably better ways to deal with it than Filson employed. Certainly, you don’t win over any supporters by telling the people who’ve been working day in day out for months and years to build the Democratic Party that you deserve their support because you volunteered a couple of days for one candidate or another over the last decade.
But everyone would forgive Filson his missteps if he could unambiguously prove that he is the real deal. (Obviously, if he wins the primary the case will be closed on this count). Remember, Filson was supposed to be a good candidate partially because his union membership was thought to give him an in with Labor. Well McNerney’s recent endorsements (I notice the ILW Local 54 has also endorsed him) raise the possibility that Filson’s connection with Labor is more apparent than real. And Filson’s failure to deliver on this count raises the possibility that his other supposed strengths are more apparent than actual. Specifically, I think it’s an open question as to whether he would be able to attract the necessary support of moderates and Independents to win against Pombo in the general election. The only concrete attribute Filson has proved is his ability to raise money. That’s certainly a necessary attribute, but it’s not sufficient.