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Union Power — More Than Meets The Eye

Organized labor is in the mail, on the airwaves and on the streets for Obama and other Democratic candidates. And there's even more union activity underneath the surface. Besides their own ads and massive get-out-the-vote campaigns, which we detail below, unions are bankrolling the attack ads of several other advocacy organizations.

Here are some new disclosures:

  • Citizens for Strength and Security, which is advertising against Sens. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), recently got $700,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The 527 also got $100,000 from an affiliated group, Citizens for Safety and Security, which in turn was funded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). With the influx, CSS jumped into the Louisiana Senate race with a new ad against Republican challenger John Kennedy.
  • Campaign Money Watch, running ads against McCain and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just got $300,000 from the Association of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
  • Patriot Majority, running ads against Dole, Wicker and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), just reported a $1.65 million haul from AFSCME, in addition to $1.5 million from the union earlier in the month, not to mention even more before October.

The United Auto Workers, meanwhile, announced radio ads supporting Democratic Senate candidates. And SEIU just launched a $425,000 ad buy in Ohio accusing McCain of supporting tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas. ( calls this line of attack misleading.) The ad features a Dayton, OH, former factory worker whose job, she says, was shipped to China. "I was Meghan the Factory Worker, " she says, mimicking the McCain campaign's favorite mascot, Joe the Plumber, "and John McCain's votes on outsourcing haven't helped me one bit."

And then there's the massive union ground game. The AFL-CIO announced: "Beginning Saturday, tens of thousands of AFL-CIO volunteers will visit more than 3.9 million union households, make 5.5 million calls and distribute more than 2 million leaflets at worksites through Election Day." AFSCME has 40,000 members out trying to mobilize voters. LIUNA plans to spend $15 million on the election, more than twice what it spent in 2004. The National Education Association sent more than 21 million mailers and made more than 2 million calls to members in battleground states. And on and on and on, with a GOTV effort the Democrats count on every two years.