Iowa: Dean vs. Gephardt/Union vs. UnionThings seem to be getting more bitter between the industrial unions campaigning for Gephardt and the service/government unions pushing Dean.
"It's trench warfare now," said Larry Scanlon, political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who moved here last week from Washington to help coordinate his union's efforts on behalf of Dr. Dean. "It's hand-to-hand combat."I don't know. I sometimes wonder if all the money spent on Dems fighting Dems in the primaries might better be saved for the ultimate battle next year.
In recent weeks, supporters of Mr. Gephardt, a longtime ally of organized labor, have bombarded their active and retired members with phone calls and a direct mailing blitz of about 60,000 campaign brochures. They have been holding meetings and sending out weekly faxes. About 25 of their members are now working here full time.
Dr. Dean's union supporters, who endorsed him just last month, are moving aggressively to counter those efforts. They argue that Dr. Dean has more money, more energy and a better chance of winning, even though he has not always supported labor's causes. This week, the government employees union, which represents 30,000 workers here, sent out the first of its own direct mailings and has promised to send workers door to door in coming days.
The federation boasts of having more cash and technology, despite its later start. The union has promised to spend more than $1 million in the state and has already moved 90 full-time staff members here this month. It is also arming its workers with hand-held computers so they can quickly update the master database of supporters as they knock on doors and make calls.
Mr. Gephardt's union supporters acknowledge that they may be outspent by their rivals, but they argue that the sheer size of their combined memberships will ultimately give them the advantage on Jan. 19, when the caucuses are held.
But no one asked me.