Is UAW president Bob King considering a run for governor of Michigan? – Updated x2

Perish the thought

See updates below

As Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer racks up endorsements around the state from elected officials, progressive groups, and labor unions, one group is notably missing from the list: the United Auto Workers (UAW). Although Schauer is clearly going to be the nominee come August of this year, the UAW’s lack of early endorsement is puzzling.

Adding to the mystery is an MIRS report this week that UAW president Bob King approached Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer asking her to reconsider her decision not to run for governor. Whitmer, of course, did not change her decision not to run so that she could be home more for her two daughters, but the report has people questioning King’s motives.

Not long ago, I heard murmuring that King himself was considering running for governor. Was his conversation with Whitmer part of testing the waters for this idea? Maybe a King/Whitmer or a Whitmer/King ticket?

Either way, this would be a huge mistake for Democrats in Michigan. Mark Schauer is the ideal candidate for our state. He has a solid background as a legislator, a member of Congress, and as a key player in numerous large organizations including Headstart and the labor/environmental partnership BlueGreen Alliance. He is a fierce and tested campaigner and fundraiser, but does not have the strident persona that turned off so many Democrats from Virg Bernero in 2010.

What Democrats need most right now is to solidify their support behind Mark Schauer who has the best chance of anyone in the state of helping us regain the Governor’s office. He is an ally to education, to labor, to the LGBT community, to environmental groups, and to essentially ALL of the interests Democrats value. He has the knowledge and the talent to lead our state out of the morass that our current corporatist administration has dragged us into and will bring credibility and a voice for average Michiganders back to the state Capitol.

I don’t pretend to know what Bob King’s and the UAW’s mindset is at the moment that has them withholding their support for Schauer. Their actions give the impression that they are somehow dissatisfied with his candidacy and want to be kingmakers in their own right. While they certainly have considerable financial and political power within the Democratic Party, they risk alienating the growing coalition of Schauer supporters who are ready to begin the campaign to defeat Rick Snyder TODAY and don’t want to see this opportunity squandered by party in-fighting.

I’m hoping that this is something that will blow over quickly and that the UAW will join the Schauer movement that is growing stronger by the day. It would be a shame if Bob King left his position as UAW president this summer being seen as a spoiler. His achievements make his legacy worthy of far more than that and we need all hands on deck, his included, in order to win across the board in 2014.

Solidarity.

UPDATE: In an interesting development, Michigan Nurses Association President John Armelagos released a statement this afternoon restating the MNA’s strong support of Schauer’s candidacy. MNA endorsed Schauer in October of last year:

Nurses and working families are fired up about Mark Schauer’s ability to turn our state around, which is why the Michigan Nurses Association endorsed him for Governor early and without reservation. Anyone in the labor community who spreads doubts about Mark’s ability to win clearly doesn’t know Mark. Mark Schauer is the right choice for Governor and MNA will proudly continue to work within a broad, cohesive effort to make sure he wins.

UPDATE 2: Bob King is now putting to rest any ideas that people may have that the UAW isn’t planning to endorse Mark Schauer. Via the Detroit Free Press:

UAW President Bob King today sought to downplay concerns over his union’s support for the candidacy of Democratic candidate Mark Schauer in the Michigan governor’s race.

“I expect the UAW will come out with a strong endorsement of Mark Schauer,” King said today in Detroit at the Automotive News World Congress.

King declined to comment on reports, confirmed by a union source, that he recently asked Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer to reconsider her decision not to seek the Democratic nomination. […]

UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada also responded to the controversy when questioned by the Free Press at today’s meeting of the Michigan Civil Service Commission.

“I can’t speak for Bob,” Estrada said. However, “Bob has a ton of respect for Mark Schauer. We all do.”

So, it sounds like the murmuring I heard about a potential Bob King candidacy was noting more than idle speculation. None of this explains King’s interaction with Senator Whitmer but, happily, the issue seems put to rest.

One other thing: Michigan Republicans seem to be giddy over the prospect that Dems might possibly be showing the tiniest amount of disharmony. It’s a comical response considering their own internal turmoil and the fact that they can’t seem to find it within themselves to rally behind their one-and-only Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land. Even now they still appear to be waiting for someone they can throw their support behind besides her.

[Photos by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]

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