The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) union is already planning to go “all in” for former Vice President Joe Biden. This is despite many of its members voting for Donald Trump in 2016.
According to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, IAFF president Harold Schaitberger is already preparing to announce the union’s official endorsement and use the union’s infrastructure to support Biden, despite the ex-Delaware senator and former Vice President not yet formally announcing his 2020 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I always remind everyone that we are everywhere there is a blinking light or traffic light,” Schaitberger told the AP. “We have infrastructure and capability, whether it’s in the neighborhoods, or whether it’s working to develop caucus attendees in Iowa. Our union is very strongly resourced and we will be investing.”
The union’s early endorsement of Biden’s campaign is particularly noteworthy, as Schaitberger admitted that many of the IAFF’s estimated 316,000 members supported President Trump in 2016. While the firefighters’ union president didn’t hint at specific pro-union policies Biden was championing, Schaitberger said he believed Biden stood a better chance to win in the Midwest, which proved pivotal in helping Trump secure the electoral votes needed to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
While it’s true that Clinton lost the 2016 election to Trump due to approximately 77,000 votes spread across Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Schaitberger’s claims that Biden is the candidate best suited to win the Midwest. In 2016, for example, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) beat Clinton in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, and defeated her handily in Wisconsin. Clinton won Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, though that could be because Pennsylvania was the only state of those three with a closed primary system, meaning only registered members of that party are allowed to vote.
One traditional line of attack launched against Sanders by the Democratic Party’s centrist faction is that roughly 10% of Sanders’ supporters voted for Trump, despite Sanders campaigning vigorously on Clinton’s behalf after losing the primary. However, given Schaitberger’s admission that many rank-and-file IAFF union members voted for Trump in 2016, there’s no guarantee his union would overwhelmingly back Biden over Trump despite the endorsement from leadership.
While Biden hasn’t yet formally entered the race, he has reportedly recorded a campaign video to release when he officially launches his bid, which will reportedly happen Thursday.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.