Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Democratic Dark Horse

by Stuart Noble
John Edwards is my dark horse of the 2008 presidential elections. I may be going out on a limb here, but there's a real progressive current moving through the US. Several western and mountain states are turning blue. Democrats are in a strong position to not only pick up the presidency but also increase their majorities in both chambers of the congress. Democrat does not necassarilly equate to progressive, liberal or green. Edwards however has been out front as the most progressive populist candidate and his message is gaining traction.

Of course, the United Transportation Union endorsed Clinton. The pundits and the Edwards campaign really expected that endorsement to go to Edwards. The UTU is primarilly based in New York and I imagine there was some pretty heavy back room dealing by the Clinton team to pick up that endorsement.

Edwards now leads the field with overall union endorsements, both in size and numbers.

Senator Edwards now has the largest bloc of union support of any of the presidential candidates!

Four major unions have endorsed Senator Edwards, over this past week:

*The Steelworkers, who represent 1.2 million active members and retirees
*The Mine Workers, representing 105,000 active members and retirees.
*The Transport Workers Union, who represent 200,000 members and retirees.
*The Brotherhood of Carpenters Union
Here is a pretty good recap by a citizen journalist on Edwards' labor day rally with the carpenters union.

The SEIU, Service Employees International Union, is due to announce their support for a candidate. The New York Times reports the following;
"Union officials say former Senator John Edwards has mounted a full-court press to persuade the S.E.I.U.’s top officials to endorse him, but Hillary Clinton’s camp and Barack Obama’s camp are maneuvering vigorously to try to deny Mr. Edwards the organization’s backing."
The Times doesn't mention that Edwards has been heavily envolved with the SEIU for several years. The SEIU is a major player in Nevada, which is another early primary state. If any candidate should pick up this endorsement it's Edwards. This would be a huge pick-up but one can never be sure.

None the less, Edwards still leads in Iowa (which is still the first state to caucus or primary) and is holding steady thus far in New Hamshire. Edwards needs to keep up the Union endorsements to gain momentum in other early states like Michican.

Also, "Edwards tops Texas Democrats' straw poll." This should add momentum to the recent campaign strategy of hammering the electibility argument. Edwards claims to be the most electable candidate in a general election.

More importantly, he is clearly running on a truly populist platform. The progressive political blogosphere has yet to really back Edwards (or any candidate). I believe it's a reflection of the growing influence and institutionalization within Democratic politics that has caused such hesitation. 2007 thus far does not resemble "Crashing the Gates."

The ultimate question may be whether the Edwards campaign manages to utilize the internet as a means to disintermediate the dominant mainstream media narratives which disparage the populist progressive movement. The "progressive netroots" may not be the expected ally. Can the Edwards' campaign find new and inovative ways around both the MSM and a subdued "progressive blogosphere?" Perhaps the "new media" won't, at the end of the day, matter much.