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Major union hits the streets for Obama

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The Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) political army is hitting the streets.

The first indications of significantly ramped-up door-knocking activity from the major union were disclosed to the Federal Election Commission Tuesday, with $1.4 million in salaries and expenses dedicated to canvassing for President Obama and seven other candidates during August.

By any measure, that’s a lot of money, which could be all the more effective because the SEIU has always said that they will have less money than Republicans, and therefore be relying not on expensive television ads, but on volunteer door-knockers.

At, say, $10 an hour, that would be enough for 140,000 man-hours of face-to-face contact with prospective voters; in fact, many of the door-knockers are volunteers, and the money instead represents costs for renting vans and printing flyers.

The numbers indicate that the union is more than tripling its efforts; it spent about $400,000 in both June and July.

The SEIU did not immediately return a request for comment.

The SEIU is also working with House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC funded by unions, Hollywood figures and New York lawyers, to run advertisements. But it is counting most on a resource that, it believes, Republicans can’t match: 2.1 million members.

The campaign finance ruling that is much-ballyhooed by liberals made union members’ canvassing work easier. Prior to the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United, its work targeting members had to be separate from its worked aimed at swaying the general voting base. One group had to visit union members’ households, and another group, with a separate set of books, had to visit the general population. This year’s crowd will be milling through neighborhoods knocking on every house on the block.

In addition to getting out the vote for Mr. Obama, the union is supporting Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Wisconsin Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin and Nevada candidate Shelley Berkley, as well as Nevada House candidate Steven Horsford, Virginia’s Paul Hirschbiel, and Colorado’s Salvatore Pace and Joe Miklosi.

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