- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, said gridlock in Washington, D.C., has led to group to expand its focus to state-level and down-ballot races this year, while still predicting a strong election day turnout operation for Democrats.

Mr. Trumka did say winning governor’s races and U.S. Senate races are both important.

“That’s why this time we focused on about 13 states, 14 states — senators, governors and down-ballot,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Because the mess in D.C., where you can’t get anything done because of Mitch McConnell’s obstruction-style politics, we’re looking at states.”

Labor unions typically provide a big get-out-the-vote push to get Democrats across the finish line in elections, and the movement does indeed appear to be fired up to push out incumbents like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who survived a recall election in 2012 after shepherding legislation to curb the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees.

But some labor leaders have indicated that the same intensity, at least in the marquee nationally watched races, might not be as high this year.

Mr. Trumka, though, predicted victories for Democratic candidates in close governor’s races in Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine.

“Our ground game [in Michigan] is really picking up,” he said.” “More volunteers, better response at the doors, better response on the phones.”

The latest RealClearPolitics average of public polling on the Michigan race has Republican Gov. Rick Snyder up by 3.3 points over Democrat Mark Schauer.

“I think our ground game and our ability to turn out voters is going to make the difference” in all the races, he said.

Mr. Walker and Democrat Mary Burke are running in what is essentially a neck-and-neck race. And in Maine, incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage is getting a strong challenge from Democrat Mike Michaud, with independent Eliot Cutler also in the race.

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