Media Try To Delegitimize Union Voters Who Helped Clinton Win Nevada Caucuses

››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

Following Hillary Clinton's "decisive win" in the Nevada Democratic caucuses, media are attempting to undermine and delegitimize the votes of union members, claiming that Clinton was the beneficiary of a "controlled vote" thanks to "self-neutered" "service-union bosses." This anti-union argument suggests that union members do not make their own voting decisions.

Hillary Clinton Wins Nevada Democratic Caucuses

CNN: "Clinton Notched A Decisive Win In The Nevada Democratic Caucuses." A February 21 CNN.com article reported that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "notched a decisive win" in the Nevada Democratic caucuses fueled by "strong turnout among minority voters and a well-organized machine in populous Clark County." [CNN.com, 2/21/16]

Media Attribute Clinton Victory To "Service-Union Bosses"

MSNBC's Chris Matthews On Clinton's Nevada Victory: "How Much Of That [Was] A Controlled Vote" By The Culinary Workers Union? During MSNBC's special coverage of the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary, MSNBC host Chris Matthews told Kristen Welker, an NBC correspondent covering the Clinton campaign, that he wondered "if union voting is a little bit more like the old days ... where the ward leader ... really has an influence when he puts the ballot in your hand." Matthews then questioned Clinton's victory, asking, "How much of that is a controlled vote, among the unions?":

CHRIS MATTHEWS (HOST): You and I know both big city politics, I'm from Philadelphia, and I'm just wondering if union voting is a little more like the old days of ward voting, where the ward leader or the [indecipherable], really has an influence when he puts that ballot in your hand, and says vote for this guy or this woman. How much of that is a controlled vote, among the unions, along the strip here, the culinary workers and those unions?

KRISTEN WELKER: Well the culinary workers didn't endorse this year, so I think that's significant --

MATTHEWS: So nobody is telling them how to vote?

WELKER: I don't think anyone is telling them how to vote. They've been very careful when you talk about the union leaders in terms of how they're talking to their constituents, but as you know there's been a big push to try to get out the union workers. [MSNBC, special coverage, 2/20/16]

National Review: Party Leaders "Pushed Service-Union Bosses ... To Help Push Clinton Over The Top." A February 20 National Review article claimed that Clinton had "many organizational advantages in Nevada," "including Harry Reid, who pushed service-union bosses in Las Vegas to ... help push Clinton over the top":

Clinton had many organizational advantages in Nevada. Most of the state's Democratic establishment fell in behind her campaign -- including Harry Reid, who pushed service-union bosses in Las Vegas to help casino workers come out and help push Clinton over the top. [National Review2/20/16]

Fox Guest: "The Machine Put Her In. ... She Just Squeaked Through." During the February 21 edition of Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures, former New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato said Clinton "squeaked through" Nevada, claiming that "the machine put her in. ... the workers, the casino workers, the unions":

ALFONSE D'AMATO: It underscores the vulnerability that Hillary has. The machine put her in. By the machine, it was the workers, the casino workers, the unions that pushed them out, Senator Reid, et cetera, and she just squeaked through, just squeaked through. The vulnerability is, number one, people and all the polls say this, they don't trust her. She has a very big trust factor. And in the general election that's going to be huge, and that is not to mention the vulnerability if there is a referral from the FBI, and I think there will be because you have seen General Petraeus on much less than what was revealed, they indicted him. What is the Justice Department going to do? I don't think they can play politics as usual. So, it isn't over. She escaped in Nevada. She may win in South Carolina, probably will, but there is out there the feeling of distrust for Hillary. [Fox Business Network, Sunday Morning Futures2/21/16]

Jon Ralston: Nevada Was In Part About "A Self-Neutered Union" That "Conspired To Revive The Clinton Campaign In A Remarkable Bit Of Backroom Maneuvering." A February 21 USA Today opinion piece by longtime Nevada reporter Jon Ralston said the Culinary Workers Union "helped steer" the Nevada Democratic caucuses in favor of Clinton, claiming that "the culinary union's reputation as a powerhouse ... can sway elections":

The story of the Nevada caucuses is that a lame-duck senator and a self-neutered union conspired to revive the Clinton campaign in a remarkable bit of backroom maneuvering that helped Madame Secretary crush Sanders in Clark County, the key to winning almost any statewide election. Combined with a Clinton machine, erected last spring and looking invincible, that suddenly had to scrape the rust off its gears and turn out her voters, Caucus Day also was a remarkable story of an indomitable candidate, her nonpareil Nevada staff and a ragtag but committed Sanders operation that made them sweat.

[...]

A lot was at stake for both -- Reid's national and in-state credibility, and the state's early-caucus status (kudos to his superb political lieutenant, Rebecca Lambe, who runs the party), and the culinary union's reputation as a powerhouse that can sway elections.

[...]

But the story here is about the Culinary Workers Union and especially Sen. Harry Reid, who helped steer the state to Clinton. They gave a whole new definition to neutrality (they will both endorse soon, I'd guess) and might have changed the course of history. [USA Today2/21/16]

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