A Tale of Two Incumbent Conservative Democrats
Conservative Democrat Senator Michael McCaffrey won his primary last week. Conservative Democrat Representative Jon Brien lost his primary last week. The difference: union support.
Both have stated they are against gay marriage. Both are (I believe) pro-life. Yet, the NEA, AFSCME, the local carpenters union and others endorsed McCaffrey. Brien lost to a firefighter with union support. Brien didn’t lose because he supported 38 Studios, he lost because he was a Democrat who regularly took on the unions and the unions turned out their vote in a low turnout primary election. That’s the way the game is played. On the other hand, McCaffrey had the support of the unions, who helped him stave off a challenge from essentially a single-issue (gay marriage) candidate who had outside funding that helped to bolster her campaign. Without union support, McCaffrey would have lost. Without union support, Brien did lose.
It’s a lesson that probably won’t be missed by that unique-too-Rhode Island species, the conservative Democrat. You can go against the liberal Democratic/progressive ideals on social issues and still win, so long as you don’t go against the unions.