First Big Union Endorsement

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This news release just in from the Dodd campaign:

WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd will receive the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters at an event with IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC tomorrow at 11 am. Saying that Dodd is the candidate that offers the proven leadership they trust to keep America safe and keep middle class families secure, the IAFF is set to formally endorse Dodd at a meeting of its Executive Board earlier in the morning. After the announcement, Dodd and Schaitberger will begin a three day tour through Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
The IAFF is credited by many with helping John Kerry win the 2004 Democratic nomination, including former Clinton Advisor Paul Begala who said, “Kerry wouldn’t be the presumptive nominee without the firefighters? [Their involvement in his campaign] has been absolutely central.” [U.S. News & World Report, 3/22/04].

WHO: Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd and IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger
WHERE: Capital Hilton Hotel, Senate Room (Second Floor)
1001 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC

I’m guessing Rudy wasn’t counting on it.

UPDATE: Commenter Brian asks:

Does this mean Dodd has a chance? It’d be nice to see some of the experienced Dems like Dodd and Biden get some more coverage. Personally, I don’t think Hillary, Obama, or Edwards can win the general election so if the Dems are serious about 2008, they ought to start looking to some other candidates that they’ve been overlooking up to this point.

It’s still hard to see how Dodd gets from here to the nomination, but the Firefighters endorsement is a big one, with additional significance post 9/11. The move is something of a surprise, as Ben Smith notes at Politico. But then, Dodd has also been an important ally on Capitol Hill, most notably in passing the 2000 Fire Act. (Insert pun about carrying their water here.)

The union prides itself on endorsing early, and President Harold Schaitberger is a savvy political hand. Both Al Gore and John Kerry worked hard for the union’s endorsement (it gave Kerry an important boost at a time when he needed it most), and the firefighters were a very visible presence at their campaign events, especially in New Hampshire, where chili suppers at fire houses are a staple of the campaign season.

UPDATE2: Commenter Poindexter asks:

How does this compare to the UTU endorsement of Hillary that came out today?

The firefighters’ union is more than twice the size of the railroad workers union, gave about triple the contributions in last year’s congressional elections, and is also one, it’s fair to say, that has made a bigger imprint on presidential politics. I imagine the timing of the UTU announcement was meant as something of a pre-emptive strike, aimed at blunting the significance of the firefighters nod to Dodd by giving Clinton claim to the first union endorsement.