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AFL-CIO ignores Kean vs. Altman in key national House race

The New Jersey AFL-CIO will not take sides in the hotly contested race for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th District between Republican incumbent Tom Kean Jr. and Democrat Sue Altman.

That means national Democrats are entering one of the races that could determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives without the support of the state’s largest labor union.

Altman was likely a victim of her past disputes with the South Jersey Democratic machine and with New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. The New Jersey Globe has learned that construction union leaders had urged no endorsement in the race.

“Organized labor is a cornerstone of this campaign and will be key to our winning coalition,” Altman said last week after the New Jersey State Council of Machinists announced their support for her campaign to oust Kean.

While individual unions are free to express their own support in the 7th District, neither candidate’s name will appear on campaign materials distributed by the AFL-CIO, including GOTV worker walks in the fall.

Altman has received endorsements from 11 unions, including the Communications Workers of America, the New Jersey Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, 32BJ Service Employees International Union, Health Professionals and Allied Employees and the Amalgamated Transit Union. NJ State Council. The Hotel & Gaming Trades Council, SEIU NJ State Council, Rutgers AAUP-AFT and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers have also endorsed Altman.

“The Republican Party is poised to destroy organized labor as we know it, especially if they win the presidency and control the House of Representatives,” Altman said. “I am proud of the endorsements we have earned to date, and I will continue to work with any union that wants to help turn around NJ-07 and build the union we need to win this race. No matter what happens, I will fight hard to protect working people if they are elected to Congress.”

In 2022, the AFL-CIO and the New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council endorsed incumbent Tom Malinowski for re-election. Kean ousted Malinowski in that election.

The AFL-CIO endorsed Republican Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) for re-election in New Jersey’s 4th District. Smith has long been a recipient of employment recommendations.

President Joe Biden, U.S. Senate candidate Andy Kim and seven incumbent Democratic House members from New Jersey also received letters of support from the AFL-CIO. They supported Democrat Herb Conaway, Jr. for Kim’s 3rd District Open House seat.

The union has also chosen not to endorse Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), who is seeking his fourth term in Congress, in the 2nd District. The Democratic primary between Joe Salerno and Tim Alexander is still too close to call.

The union also backed a player to be named later who backed the “eventual Democratic nominee” in the 10th District.

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