SEIU Endorses Kroger

Yesterday, the Oregon chapter of the Service Employees International Union announced its endorsement of Attorney General candidate John Kroger.

From PolitickerOR:

[John] Kroger put another notch in his endorsement belt today when he received the support of the state’s largest union, the Service Employees International Union.

“Our Union has endorsed John Kroger for Attorney General because we need an Attorney General who will stand up for the people of Oregon and John has a history of doing the people’s work,” said Kate Pingo, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU 49.

Kroger said he was proud to receive the union’s support, and hopes to work with them to create more jobs for more people in more workplaces.

“Their endorsement is a powerful statement in our race,” he said.

Read the rest. Kroger has previously received endorsements from the Sierra Club, former Governor Kitzhaber, and a group of District Attorneys from around the state. Oregon Rep. Greg Macpherson has been endorsed by Governors Roberts and Kulongoski, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Will these endorsements make a difference in the primary?

Discuss.

Comments

  • Christy (unverified)
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    Does anyone else find this to be sort of shocking? Kroger and Macpherson are both great. You would think with Macpherson's record, they would call it a draw rather than endorse the newbie. Is this about Macpherson's role in PERS reform? Any thoughts?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Duh? It sure is about Macpherson's role in PERS reform, but it is also about his abject lack of experience in legal matters outside of retirement law. Ask yourself this question? Would you rather have a former prosecutor or a pension lawyer as AG?

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Christy,

    Your question gets to the very heart of why a lot of us support Kroger over Macpherson; this election cannot be about the past, it has to be about a plan for the future, and in this regard, Macpherson has been lacking. Kroger has presented a platform for what he would do as AG, Macpherson has mostly talked about what he did as a legislator. Interest groups notice this.

    To call back to the question in the post, yes, endorsements matter, but probably not in the way most people think. At minimum, endorsements like this one (and I would add the Carpenters Union to the list above) prove that Kroger is a viable candidate - and not the out of state flash in the pan that some Macpherson surrogates like to claim. Endorsements matter the most for voters working with little information about the candidates. As such, they matter more in primary elections, and less in the general election, because party id provides most voters with all the information they need (there are not a lot of people who vote Republican, except when the ACLU endorses a Democrat).

  • Mike (unverified)
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    MacPherson chaired the Judiciary Committee in the Oregon House of Representatives. I'd hardly say he "lacks experience in legal matters outside of retirement law."

    In fact he has been masterful at using his legal skills to take on really tough issues in the House and is generally regarded by his colleagues as one of the most intelligent and thoughtful members of the Legislature.

    I have nothing bad to say about Kroger, just very high regard for MacPherson.

  • Matt (unverified)
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    This endorsement is definitely going to matter. Kroger just gained the support of thousands of union workers. The support might come via financial contributions, volunteer efforts, persuasion with other unions, or grassroots organizing. Every Democrat knows that a committed union brings free help to a campaign, and while Kroger may be trailing Macpherson at the bank, he continues to pad his lead in the front lines.

    I know Macpherson is a good guy and has the support of two governors and the LCV, but why can't this guy get regular workers to support him? If you look at his endorsements, it's his friends in the legislature and the League of Conservation Voters. That's it. I would expect that a 3rd-generation Oregonian who says he's always worked for the people to actually have the support from unions, law enforcement, and and environmentalists. Instead, Kroger's got that support.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Mike writes:

    know Macpherson is a good guy and has the support of two governors and the LCV, but why can't this guy get regular workers to support him? If you look at his endorsements, it's his friends in the legislature and the League of Conservation Voters. That's it. I would expect that a 3rd-generation Oregonian who says he's always worked for the people to actually have the support from unions, law enforcement, and and environmentalists. "

    That's because his actions speak louder than words. Macpherson has done nothing significant for workers, and he's wearing the PERS anvil around his neck. He crossed the unions big-time on that one and I expect he'll lose the AFSCME endorsement too for that reason.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    "Macpherson has done nothing significant for workers..."

    And Kroger has? You must be kidding. Help me out here ... when has Kroger done "the people's work," as SEIU spokesperson put it? Is she referring to being a DA in New York? Volunteering as a democratic precinct person? The AG is a political person, not a prosecutor (that's a DA's job), and Macpherson is the candidate who has the political chops to handle the job.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    I have nothing but respect for Gov. Roberts and I have nothing against Kulongski except my conviction that he's much more about response than stimulus, but looking at their profoundly establishment endorsements to date: Hillary, Merkeley, and MacPherson...

    I'll take the SEIU and the winds of change any day.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Macpherson has done nothing significant for workers..."

    And Kroger has? You must be kidding.

    Well, whether Kroger has done anything for Oregon workers is beside the point. Macpherson has done some things significant TO Oregon workers, including foisting on them some retroactive changes to benefits. The legal fallout from Macpherson's "political chops" is still costing everyone and is nowhere near over. Macpherson must die the politician's death - defeat in the primary and then on to political oblivion.

  • Salem Sally (unverified)
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    PERS had to be fixed. Macpherson should be rewarded not punished for working on it. This is part of the problem of our labor partners (including our public labor partners) running too much of the Democratic team.

    Oregon was (and might still be, but moving toward healthierness) #1 in the country in per capita retirement spending. If Oregon went from #1 in per capita public employee retirement spending just to #2 or #3, we'd have another $300+ million to spend on schools, etc. And it was bankrupting the State after a negotiation where public unions advocated for their own interests with little consideration for the good of the State or future economic prospects. Macpherson's work on PERS was courageous, heroic, and hugely important for the States. The hard for him is that he can't effectively trumpet that achievement in the campaign, because of the fear of SEIU, AFSCME, AFT/OSEA and OEA.

    Fixing PERS was critical for "regular working folks" -- because it was crippling the landscape of services for regular folks. It was a hard issue -- and my heart certainly goes out for PERS recipients who were caught in the middle. But it was a problem that had to be dealt with, and his work was statesmanlike.

    That Kroger is capitalizing on it is not a knock on him, but it's not a big reason to support him. Other than "I was a prosecutor" and "I will go after Enron (again)", it's not clear what better he offers. The AG doesn't spend most of his time trying cases, and it's NOT a statewide District Attorney. That is, it's not primarily a prosecutorial job. It's a management task, often a legislative job, a legal advisory job, etc. And Macpherson could champion a lot of the changes we need given his legislative experience and skill.

    But ultimately, I don't want to help SEIU punish Macpherson for his courageous leadership on dealing with one of the biggest financial crisis in our recent state history.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Sally, you do not characterize Kroger's campaign correctly. The point of his campaign is that while the AG does have an advisory role, it is also empowered to do more direct action, and in this regard not enough has been done. Specifically, there is not enough environmental enforcement, not enough done on child support, and very little done in curbing meth. Also, FYI, there is a criminal prosecution aspect to the job, particularly for organized crime.

    The question over PERS was very complicated, and did not neatly divide along normal party lines. However, one thing that concerned me during the debate, was that Macpherson specifically said that he did not care if the reforms were constitutional:

    "Some legislators opposed the PERS reforms based on their belief that the Court will strike them down. In my view, this position confuses the proper roles of the judiciary and of the legislature... The legislature should base its decisions on what is good public policy... The decision about whether public employees have a legal right to continuation of PERS without changes should be left to the Oregon Supreme Court."

    I agree that the legislature should focus on good public policy, however, part of crafting good public policy is creating a legal regime that will survive scrutiny by the court. The fact that Macpherson feel that legislatures should ignore potential constitutional problems is somewhat worrisome.

  • Brienne (unverified)
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    I am a member of a local union affiliate of AFT-Oregon (American Federation of Teachers), and I hope they endorse Kroger too. As a law professor, Kroger has been a supporter of my union and, as I understand, is currently taking a stand with the rest of the law faculty against the Lewis & Clark College administration who want to outsource specific union jobs. I am grateful to have someone like Kroger on the side of unions, and only wish we had more people in powerful positions as ethical and compassionate as he is.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    MacPherson supported the Oregon AFl-CIO's three biggest bills during the 2007 legislative session:

    HB 2891 (Majority Sign-up), HB 2892 (State Financial Accountability Act), HB 2893 (Worker Freedom Act).

    How many times does he have to be "right" to prove he cares about working families?

    If PERS reforms hadn't been passed, where would the state be today in terms of its ability to fund education and human services (which are still underfunded)?

    When Democrats like Obama talk about "being in this together", I don't think they are qualifying their values by union membership.

    Unions are a critical part of our fight to build stronger communities, but they aren't the only aspect of community that matters. Sometimes in politics, values collide with one another, and sometimes they collide with practical concerns (i.e. funding ability).

    As far as I can tell, MacPherson is highly qualified and cares about doing what is right for all the working families of Oregon.

  • FYI (unverified)
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    FYI, SEIU is not AFL-CIO, it is Change to Win (CTW), same as the Carpenters who previously endorsed Kroger. The AFL-CIO unions have not weight in.

  • Nick C. (unverified)
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    John Kroger has listed his official platform on his website.

    For those on this thread who only know Mr. Kroger as "The Enron Guy"

    (Other than "I was a prosecutor" and "I will go after Enron (again)", it's not clear what better he offers.)

    take a look.

    I saw him speak at the University of Oregon Law School last week and liked what he had to say. I think it would be fair to say that Mr. Kroger advocates the use of the AG's office to satisfy progressive policy ends in the area of environmental regulation and consumer protection. Sounds good to me.

    Anyways, have a look.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    f PERS reforms hadn't been passed, where would the state be today in terms of its ability to fund education and human services (which are still underfunded)?

    Exactly where they are today. The PERS problem was solved by the stock market, not by changing benefit structures after the fact. The ratio of savings as a result of legislation not overruled by the Supreme Court to savings resulting from gains in the stock market is about 1:10. PERS would have improved without any intervention by the legislature. And the legislature could have made some changes to PERS that wouldn't have affected any currently working or retired people. That they didn't shows how little regard they have for public employees. That Mr Macpherson led the charge to change the rules retroactively shows how little regard he has for the unions and their workers. If you won't support union workers, why should we expect him to support other workers.

  • ben rivers (unverified)
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    Yes, Macpherson hates working families according to SEIU, that's why he received such bad marks from them over the years:

    SEIU's 2007 Legislative Scorecard: Workers' Rights "A" Health Care "A" Consumer Protection "A" Public Services "A+"

    SEIU's 2005 Legislative Scorecard Workers Issues "B+" Health Care Issues "A"

    Working families beware...Greg Macpherson is an "A" student who doesn't want you to live a comfortable life.

    (I would like to apologize to the sarcastically challenged in the crowd.)

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    2005 - Macpherson getting ready to run for reelection. (Note, omission of Macpherson's 2003 scores).

    2007 - Macpherson considering run for AG's office.

    Macpherson - note to self: "Must clean up act. Appear worker friendly. Must get re-elected".

  • artsasinic (unverified)
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    Just to be clear, this was SEIU Local 49, not Local 503 which is the union most often affiliated with state employees and PERS. Local 49 has minimal, if any membership under PERS.

  • (Show?)

    Macpherson and Kroger are both fine men and either would bring credit to the office of Attorney General.

    I prefer and support John Kroger but that's not a slam on Greg Macpherson, simply a statement of preference for trying a different approach.

    Watch the debate video from the Bus Project conference and judge for yourself.

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)
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    Omigod. What about Arnold Schwarzenegger?

    It IS sexist. I knew it!

  • (Show?)

    Rose, I think you meant this comment for the Arlington mayor thread.

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)
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    oops -- that last comment belongs with the story on the bikini clad mayor story. Blog foul!

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)
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    Macpherson has done nothing significant for workers..."

    And Kroger has? You must be kidding.

    I was in the meeting in which we endorse Kroger, so were several Department of Justice workers. It was those workers, who had met several times with Kroger, who convinced the rest of us that Kroger was the best choice for workers.

    I personally liked his performance when giving his speech and answering questions a lot better than Macpherson's.

    He will do a good job as Oregon's Attorney General.

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