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Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Washington State Labor Council endorses Bob Ferguson’s 2024 gubernatorial campaign

The Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, AFL-CIO, announced today that del­e­gates rep­re­sent­ing hun­dreds of unions from across the Ever­green State vot­ed resound­ing­ly today to endorse Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son to be Wash­ing­ton’s next gov­er­nor. “A two-thirds major­i­ty vote was required for endorse­ment. That super­ma­jor­i­ty was eas­i­ly achieved in favor of Fer­gu­son,” the WSLC said in a news release announc­ing its deci­sion.

Fer­gu­son is the Demo­c­ra­t­ic fron­trun­ner for gov­er­nor in 2024 and is in a tight head-to-head matchup with Repub­li­can Con­gress­man Dave Reichert in a hypo­thet­i­cal gen­er­al elec­tion envi­ron­ment, accord­ing to our pub­lic opin­ion research. Fer­gu­son is also com­pet­ing with dozens of oth­er can­di­dates for a spot on the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion can­di­date. How­ev­er, of those oth­er con­tenders, only two oth­ers have been rais­ing seri­ous mon­ey: Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let and Repub­li­can Semi Bird, an oust­ed Rich­land school board member.

“This is a crit­i­cal race for Washington’s work­ing fam­i­lies and our affil­i­at­ed unions want to hit the ground run­ning ear­ly to sup­port Bob Fer­gu­son, who’s clear­ly the best can­di­date for gov­er­nor,” said April Sims, Pres­i­dent of the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil, AFL-CIO, in the WSLC’s state­ment. “Bob Fer­gu­son has been a strong cham­pi­on for work­ers in our state. From fight­ing wage theft to pro­tect­ing Han­ford work­ers, Bob has con­sis­tent­ly stood up to big cor­po­ra­tions — and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, when nec­es­sary — to make sure work­ing people’s rights are pro­tect­ed. We are con­fi­dent he will con­tin­ue to do so as governor.”

“I am hon­ored to receive [the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil’s] ear­ly endorse­ment,” said Fer­gu­son in a brief state­ment. “The WSLC is a pow­er­ful voice for Washington’s diverse work­ers, who form the back­bone of our state. I will con­tin­ue fight­ing for bet­ter wages, jobs, and edu­ca­tion, and stronger col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights for Washington’s work­ing families.”

Bob Ferguson endorsed by WSLC

A graph­ic cre­at­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil to pro­mote its endorse­ment of Bob Ferguson

“Cor­po­ra­tions out­spend unions on elec­tions by 16-to‑1, so it’s not just about cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions; it’s about peo­ple pow­er,” said WSLC Sec­re­tary Trea­sur­er Cheri­ka Carter, refer­ring to Open Secrets research on mon­ey in campaigns.

“The WSLC endorse­ment means gain­ing grass­roots vol­un­teers who will roll up their sleeves to knock on doors, make phone calls, send texts, and have con­ver­sa­tions with their co-work­ers, friends, and neigh­bors about why Bob Fer­gu­son is the best choice for gov­er­nor. We’re kick­ing off this work right now.”

The WSLC’s release also knocked Reichert for hav­ing “vot­ed for mas­sive tax cuts for the wealthy and big cor­po­ra­tions that have increased bud­get deficits, for job-killing ‘free trade’ agree­ments, and to make it hard­er to form unions” dur­ing his stint rep­re­sent­ing the 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in the House of Representatives.

No men­tion was made of Mul­let’s can­di­da­cy — or Bird’s.

The last time Mul­let ran for office, how­ev­er, the Wash­ing­ton State Labor Coun­cil endorsed his Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent — Ingrid Ander­son — while busi­ness groups went all-in to defend Mul­let in his bid for a third con­sec­u­tive term in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate. Repub­li­cans inex­plic­a­bly did not field a can­di­date, result­ing in an intra­party chal­lenge end­ing up on the gen­er­al elec­tion ballot.

“We’re used to see­ing big out-of-state cor­po­ra­tions spend mil­lions to try to get Repub­li­cans elect­ed in Wash­ing­ton state, but this time their attacks are on behalf of a Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor,” said Lar­ry Brown, April Sims’ pre­de­ces­sor, in a July 20th, 2020 state­ment. “It under­scores the stakes in this elec­tion. Vot­ers in east King Coun­ty are choos­ing between an incum­bent politi­cian who sup­ports cor­po­rate inter­ests and a nurse who sup­ports work­ing people’s interests.”

Mul­let nar­row­ly pre­vailed in that elec­tion, win­ning 41,949 votes to Ander­son­’s 41,892 votes. The dif­fer­ence was a mere fifty-sev­en votes.

Mul­let is the only 2024 guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date that NPI’s research indi­cates has expe­ri­enced neg­a­tive momen­tum dur­ing the course of his cam­paign. At the time he began run­ning, he had 7% sup­port in our horser­ace ques­tion look­ing at the Top Two field. But as of Novem­ber, he had slipped to 5% in that same question.

The Jack­son Lega­cy Fund, which sup­ports Mul­let, feels that once Wash­ing­ton vot­ers know about some of Reichert’s prob­lem­at­ic issue posi­tions and strong­ly held right wing val­ues, they will be much more inter­est­ed in Mul­let’s can­di­da­cy. They hired Repub­li­can poll­ster Moore Infor­ma­tion to inves­ti­gate that scenario.

But can­di­date elec­tions turn on iden­ti­ty and trust, not issue posi­tions. Issue posi­tions can influ­ence how peo­ple feel about can­di­dates, but they aren’t deci­sive. It won’t be enough for Mul­let to have a set of pop­u­lar posi­tions, or posi­tions that what’s left of the Dan Evans wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty will like. Mul­let needs vot­ers to iden­ti­fy with his can­di­da­cy and back it over Reichert’s. That’ll be difficult.

Giv­en Mul­let’s long record of vot­ing against pri­or­i­ty WSLC leg­is­la­tion, he effec­tive­ly long ago elim­i­nat­ed him­self from con­sid­er­a­tion in the labor move­men­t’s endorse­ment pro­ceed­ings as a can­di­date for high­er office. With Fer­gu­son the only oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic guber­na­to­r­i­al hope­ful remain­ing (Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz piv­ot­ed to run­ning for Con­gress sev­er­al months back), the expec­ta­tion has been the WSLC would endorse Fer­gu­son at some point.

How­ev­er, the WSLC does most of its endors­ing at its annu­al COPE meet­ing in May. It is sig­nif­i­cant that Fer­gu­son is receiv­ing an endorse­ment months soon­er than that, here in Feb­ru­ary. It speaks to the enthu­si­asm for his can­di­da­cy with­in the labor move­ment and Fer­gu­son’s efforts to defend and expand work­er protections.

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