The Washington Post tells the official inside story of how Dean bagged the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) endorsements.
Gephardt's reaction: AFSCME “turned over the country to the Republicans for four more years.” But by the time you finish the story, you think Gephardt's wrong.
For example, there's Dean's arrogance — the good kind, the kind that wins elections:
at the beginning of their discussions, Dean was not on either union's list of likely endorsees. Last December, at one of their first meetings, Stern asked Dean if there was any way he could help him, thinking he could open some union doors to the little-known candidate. “He said, 'Well you can endorse me,' which I thought was a pretty bold, first opening comment,” Stern said. “And I said, 'Well, we're a little far away from that,' and he said, 'Well, if you endorse me, I'm going to be president.' “
And there's hard work.
The SEIU offered all the candidates the same resources: a list of their local leadership and a warning that the route to the endorsement began not in Stern's fifth-floor office on L Street NW but through the rank and file. “Everybody got the same advice,” an SEIU official said. “Howard Dean took it to heart.” No other candidate came close to Dean's outreach. “Shockingly” not close, Stern said.
And then there's this:
[AFSCME President] McEntee had also asked two top advisers, executive assistant Lee Saunders and political action director Larry Scanlon, to go out and look at the headquarters operations of the campaigns. When they got to Dean's Burlington headquarters in late October, they found energy, innovative use of technology, fundraising prowess and a clear strategy for winning.
“They were blown away in Burlington,” McEntee said.
I have to chuckle right now after your losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. But I’m sure those chuckles will turn into guffaws after next Tuesday. Dean’s through, and AFSCME’s arrogance and refusal to listen to its members wishes will, with any luck, make you more humble in the future. Time to give up the ghost and start recruiting members, rather than forcing those members to back loser candidates