When groups like Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform endorse a Republican candidate or organizations like the AFL-CIO endorse a Democrat, it generally doesn’t rate much more than a raised eyebrow.
But U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine touted endorsements Friday from two groups that don't have quite the ironclad history of toeing the party line in Virginia in recent years.
The Virginia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) endorsed the Republican Mr. Allen at its convention in Fairfax, while the Virginia Credit Union League (VCUL) endorsed Mr. Kaine, a Democrat.
"This endorsement and this race come down to very different records of results for Virginia families," Mr. Allen said. "As governor I worked with a Democrat-controlled legislature to crack down on criminals, including through the abolition of parole, truth in sentencing and juvenile justice reform. By working together across the aisle, we demonstrated the bipartisan leadership required to accomplish historic reforms for Virginia and make our communities safer places to live, work, invest, shop, and raise our families."
The state police union, established in 1953, represents nearly 8,000 law enforcement officers.
Though the FOP has traditionally endorsed Republican candidates nationally, Virginia has a bit of a different recent history.
The group supported former Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, when he ran for attorney general in 1993, but flipped to his opponent, Democrat Donald S. Beyer, in Mr. Gilmore's successful race for governor in 1997. It also endorsed Democrat Mark R. Warner in his successful Senate run in 2008 — when he defeated Mr. Gilmore.
Democrat Mary Sue Terry won two campaigns for the state's attorney general position with the backing of the FOP, but the group notably flipped to endorse Mr. Allen in his winning 1993 gubernatorial race against Ms. Terry. The group also endorsed Mr. Allen in his 2000 U.S. Senate race against Democrat Chuck Robb and his unsuccessful 2006 bid against retiring Sen. Jim Webb, the man he's currently trying to replace. Former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, won the FOP's support when he lost to Mr. Kaine in the state's 2005 gubernatorial race.
Meanwhile, in accepting the credit union trade group's endorsement, Mr. Kaine said he has great respect for credit unions and what he called their "people helping people" philosophy.
"The economy and the creation of jobs is the central focus of my campaign, and credit unions and other community-based financial institutions will help drive the economic recovery," he said. "Washington needs to ensure the nation's 'Main Street' financial institutions can remain strong, innovative and vibrant for the good of working Americans and our communities."
The league represents Virginia's 184 credit unions.
The same group, however, actually endorsed Mr. Allen in his 2006 contest against Mr. Webb, and supported Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in his 2009 gubernatorial race against state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath Democrat.
The Kaine campaign also immediately responded to the FOP endorsement by touting support from law enforcement officials across the state, such as Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh; Michael Mohler, president of the state's professional firefighters' union; and Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Shannon Taylor.
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