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Major Union Won’t Endorse Aubertine

State Senator Darrel Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent)
State Senator Darrel Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent)

The New York State AFL-CIO sent a strong signal to State Senator Darrel Aubertine that union leaders are disappointed in him.

The union issued scores of endorsements Monday in races ranging from the Governor’s race to the dozens of State Assembly contests.

But in his district, two words: No endorsement.

The union is unhappy with Aubertine and a handful of other upstate Democratic Senators for their support of two measures pushed by lame duck Governor David Paterson.

Paterson supported the SUNY Empowerment Act, which would have given each SUNY college the ability to set its own tuition and would have changed how major construction projects are financed on SUNY campuses.

Unions opposed the act because they say it would have led to sharp increases in tuition without state legislative oversight.  They believe that would leave more low and middle-income students out of college.

Paterson also backed a plan to impose a cap on the size of tax increases that local governments and school district’s could impose.  The cap would have been either 4% or 120% of the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Neither measure has made it through both houses of the Legislature as yet.

The AFL-CIO used robocalls into Aubertine’s district, which includes Oswego County, back in May.  The union wanted to pressure Aubertine, a farmer, over his fight against a bill that would have given migrant farmworkers rights equivalent to workers in other industries.  He said the measure would devastate farming.

The massive union’s support is important to Democrats as a counterbalance against the industrial and corporate support more often enjoyed by Republicans.

The union’s backing brings with it money and manpower.  Union leaders say their members support the union’s official position about 80% of the time.

Aubertine represents a district that has a slight majority of registered Republican voters.  He’s challenged this year by Republican Patty Ritchie, the County Clerk of St. Lawrence County.

The union endorsed only one of the four Republicans who represent Oswego County in the State Assembly.  Robert Oaks, whose district includes the town of Hannibal, received the union’s backing. He was one of just eight Republican Assembly candidates to win the endorsement.  Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay of Pulaski did not.  Barclay has no opposition.

The union did not make endorsements in the 122nd and 115th districts, both of which include Oswego County.

Moderate Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava is not running for reelection in the 122nd district.  Democrat Brian McGrath of Lowville will face off against Republican Ken Blankenbush of Jefferson County in that district.

In the 115th, Republican David Townsend is also leaving the Assembly.  Two Republicans will fight a primary for the party’s backing — George Joseph and Claudia Tenney.  The winner of the primary is the likely winner of the November election as no Democrat will be on the ballot.