In a meaningful sign of his strength for the June Democratic governor, Mike Cooney has scored the endorsement of three major Montana labor unions, an unprecedented achievement in a competitive Democratic primary.
Cooney received the endorsement this week from the Montana Federation of Public Employee, the AFL-CIO, and the Teamsters.
In their endorsement, the MFPE highlighted Cooney’s long record of public service:
We have worked with him throughout his long, distinguished career in public service, from the legislature, to Secretary of State, to the Montana Historical Society, to the Montana Labor Department, and now as Lieutenant Governor. Mike knows Montana. Mike knows good government.
In their endorsement, the AFL-CIO noted that Cooney has spent his entire life in public service to Montana:
After careful consideration of all candidates, we made the decision to endorse Mike Cooney and his running mate Casey Schreiner. Mike has spent his career in public service to his home state, and the lives of countless working Montanans are better for it. He has shown that he’s committed to the workers who drive the state’s economy every day. The fact that he has a card-carrying trade unionist as his running mate further emphasizes that.
Cooney also received the endorsement of the Teamsters Local 190 in Billings, who noted:
Mike knows the importance of the contributions of the men and women who have built Montana – workers. He knows Montanans stand stronger together and that it is the hardworking people of our state who are worth fighting for. It’s why Montanans have elected Mike to statewide office four times—as a state legislator in the House and the Senate, as Secretary of State, and as Governor Steve Bullock’s Lt. Governor— because we know he can get things done by bringing people together and finding responsible solutions while never compromising on our Montana values.
When I reached out to Cooney for comment on the endorsements, he stressed his commitment to the working men and women who have made Montana “the state it is today”:
Let’s not forget it’s the hard-working and dedicated men and women of Montana who have made the state it is today. I’m humbled to have earned the support of organized labor groups across the state. These endorsements mean Casey and I are running a campaign that reflects the values and vision of Montana working families. With this unprecedented amount of support I’m confident we’re building the strongest statewide campaign Democrats need to win in November.
These endorsements rest on two foundations, Cooney’s long record of public service and, perhaps, a growing sense that his campaign is the one that can win in November.
It’s undeniable that Cooney has a demonstrated record of achievement for working people across the state. Since he first served in the Montana Legislature, Cooney has been there for the big fights that matter to Montana’s workers. His record has been consistent since day one as a legislator, Secretary of State, state agency head and Lieutenant Governor: he has always voted for the interest of Montana worker, and he’s been on the frontlines with them in those fights.
Cooney’s record presents a real challenge for his opponent, Whitney Williams. While no one questions her commitment to progressive values on labor questions, Cooney has done the work his whole professional life. It matters that Cooney has been fighting for labor for the better part of forty years, and the labor endorsements are an earned testament to that effort.
The endorsements also reflect a growing consensus in progressive circles that Cooney is the candidate who can defeat Greg Gianforte in the fall. The Williams campaign seems to be stalled—even more than others—during the shelter in place, and she just hasn’t delivered on the fundraising numbers that were supposed to be her most significant asset in her effort to overcome the name recognition that Cooney—and Gianforte—hold.
No one in labor has told me, on or off the record, that they’re discounting the Williams campaign. Still, this wave of endorsements, a big win for the Cooney campaign, suggest a consensus is emerging that Cooney is our best bet to hold the governor’s office in November.