AFL-CIO says: 'Ted Kulongoski for governor!'
CORVALLIS - The Oregon AFL-CIO put its political agenda in motion at its 47th annual convention, endorsing Democrats Ted Kulongoski for governor and Bill Bradbury for U.S. Senate.
"I want to make you proud. I want to be the governor for all the working men and women of Oregon," said Kulongoski, who was endorsed by the AFL-CIO in the Democratic primary, were he captured 49 percent of the vote against two other friends of labor - Jim Hill and Bev Stein.
An estimated 25 percent of the votes cast in the primary came from union households, and Kulongoski is banking on an even bigger turnout come November.
The former Supreme Court justice, insurance commissioner, attorney general and legislator was the keynote speaker at "Labor's Own" banquet held on the opening evening of the convention, June 10.
Labor Commissioner-elect Dan Gardner was emcee at the banquet. A state representative and vice president of Electrical Workers Local 48, Gardner told the crowd at the Benton County Fairgrounds that, "When labor sticks together, labor wins together."
Proof of that was his non-partisan victory over two opponents in the May primary; State Senator Susan Castillio's election as superintendent of public instruction in a three-person non-partisan race that included the incumbent; and the re-election of Oregon Court of Appeals Judge David Shuman over a well-financed challenger.
The victories meant a clean sweep for AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates in statewide races.
Kulongoski's opponent in November is Republican State Representative Kevin Mannix of Salem. The former Democrat lost a statewide election for attorney general two years ago to Hardy Meyers in a brutal campaign that Meyers told convention delegates was "an unprecedented smear campaign and character assassination against me." Meyers said voters should expect the same type of campaign this year.
Kulongoski said Oregonians will have a clear choice in November.
"We couldn't be more different," he said, comparing himself to Mannix. "It's a difference between mainstream and extreme. Kevin Mannix is out of the mainstream and he wants to take us with him."
Kulongoski called for an increase in the state's minimum wage, economic development policies that will promote family-wage jobs and reforms in the pricing practices of pharmaceutical companies.
"The drug companies are taking more and more profits and delivering less and less health care for the American people," he said. "I believe health care should be every Oregonian's right. The pharmaceutical industry will fight us tooth and nail, but I plan to see it through so that Oregonians get the best medicine, not the most expensive medicine."
Secretary of State Bradbury told convention delegates, "I wear my 93 percent lifetime voting record from the AFL-CIO as a badge of honor," comparing his voting record on working family issues to that of incumbent U.S. Senator Gordon Smith, who has a 17 percent voting record as tracked by the AFL-CIO.˜
Bradbury challenged Smith's image as a moderate, saying, "It's not moderate when he votes five times in the past six years against a one dollar increase in the minimum wage, while his own Senate salary increased by $11,500."
Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt said Bradbury received the unanimous endorsement because "he has been a lifelong friend of working families in Oregon. We strive for jobs that pay a living wage, with adequate health and retirement benefits. We expect fair treatment from employers in our workplaces. We fight for our fair share of the wealth we produce with our labor. Bradbury supports these same issues and we know that he'll continue his support for working families in the U.S. Senate."
Nearly 350 delegates and guests participated in the convention on the campus of Oregon State University. It was the first convention under the New Alliance format that was established in May.
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