Kulongoski wins AFL-CIO support

The Oregon AFL-CIO endorsed Ted Kulongoski in the Democratic primary for governor.

Representatives of 27 different unions and labor councils that comprise the Committee of Political Education (COPE) voted 46-4 to support Kulongoski in a three-way Democratic Party primary. The vote culminated a five-month long evaluation process during which the candidates responded to questionnaires, participated in a joint forum at the labor federation's convention and appeared at union meetings throughout the state.

The other two candidates in the May 2002 primary are former state treasurer Jim Hill and former Multnomah County chairwoman Bev Stein.

"This was like a job interview," said Tim Nesbitt, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. "Our members interviewed three qualified candidates, all of whom have been solid supporters of Oregon's working families. But their choice was clear. Ted Kulongoski is by far the best candidate on experience, knowledge of issues and ability to lead Oregon in these challenging times."

With the endorsement came a $5,000 campaign contribution from the Committee on Political Education.

COPE also unanimously endorsed Secretary of State Bill Bradbury in the Democratic Party primary for U.S. senator.

Bradbury will face incumbent Republican Gordon Smith in the general election.

In their endorsement, COPE delegates cited Bradbury's 15-year legislative career where he received a lifetime voting record of 92 percent. By contrast, Smith has a 3 percent rating from the AFL-CIO.

In his speech before the Executive Board, Bradbury strongly emphasized the need for the federal government to play a crucial role in Oregon's economic recovery. "Today, Oregon announced that we have the highest unemployment rate in the country (7.4 percent). Working Oregonians need help now. I think it is shameful that the United States Senate found $15 billion for the airline industry just weeks after Sept. 11, but we are still waiting on aid for unemployed workers."

At the COPE meeting the state labor federation released the results of a statewide poll funded by several affiliated unions in mid-November. The poll showed Kulongoski with a substantial early lead in the primary, with 44 percent of the vote compared to 14 percent for Hill and 8 percent for Stein. The poll also shows Kulongoski leading Republican candidate Jack Roberts by 10 points - 44 percent to 34 percent in a general election matchup.

Roberts is facing opposition from two other candidates, former state representative Kevin Mannix and Portland School Board member Ron Saxton.

Roberts received a primary election endorsement from the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, which is comprised of more than three dozen construction worker locals. The building trades endorsed Kulongoski in the Democratic primary.

Kulongoski stepped down as a justice of the Oregon Supreme Court to enter the governor's race.

He also has served the state as attorney general and as insurance commissioner under former Governor Neil Goldschmidt. Current Governor John Kitzhaber, who is term limited from running again, also has endorsed Kulongoski.

December 21, 2001 issue

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