With the finish line in sight, national union leaders and labor-endorsed candidates fired up union volunteers Saturday in South St. Paul, urging them to keep working to turn out labor voters for the midterm election Nov. 6.
“We’ve got 10 days until the day that will determine the direction of our nation,” AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride told over 150 people ready to knock doors in St. Paul and nearby suburbs. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
McBride was one of two national labor leaders who traveled to Minnesota for the weekend campaign push. Political strategists are closely watching congressional races here that could be pivotal in determining control of Congress for the next two years.
“The reason we came in from Washington, D.C. is because all eyes are on Minnesota right now,” AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler, the nation’s second highest ranking labor leader, said.
Several candidates running with labor support in key races joined the rally.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith is running to keep the seat she’s held since being appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to replace Al Franken. Smith thanked union volunteers for getting more voters to the polls.
“We have a job to do in this democracy, and that is to participate,” she said.
Angie Craig is running “to make Jason Lewis a one-term congressman,” she said, in Minnesota’s 2ndCongressional District. Craig lost the third-closest U.S. House race in the country two years ago. She scored a standing ovation from volunteers when she said Congress should amend federal labor law to make right to work illegal.
“If you want to make America great again, you make unions great again in this country,” she said.
Both Smith and Craig are getting a boost from the Labor 2018 campaign, which has union volunteers reaching out to working Minnesotans at their front doors, on their phones and on social media. Since August, volunteers with the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation – just one of six regional labor bodies in the state – have attempted over 80,000 direct contacts with union members, retirees or their family members.
Labor 2018 is the most ambitious political push the state’s unions have ever attempted, and it’s tapping into enthusiasm among union activists, women voters and others who have had Nov. 6, 2018, circled on their calendars since Trump took office.
The Labor 2018 campaign’s top priority is electing Tim Walz governor. Walz’s running mate, state Rep. Peggy Flanagan, attended the rally, hosted by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189.
“Let’s be the wave for Walz,” McBride urged volunteers. “Let’s be the workers’ wave, the women’s wave.”