PHILADELPHIA – The region's largest labor organization on Thursday backed U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter's (search) re-election bid.
The Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO (search), which has about 150,000 regional members from 115 locals, said that its executive board was recommending that the union's statewide federation support Specter's re-election when the group meets in August to decide its endorsements.
"We are confident in your candidacy and that you will continue to serve as a strong advocate for working families," union president Patrick Eiding said in a letter to Specter released Thursday.
Eiding said in a telephone interview that the organization backed Specter because of his experience and his support for labor when it most counted — even when it required him to break with the GOP line, as in recent votes supporting postal workers, asbestos workers and protection of overtime.
"You don't forget people who have been there for you, and he has been there for us for those tough votes," Eiding said. "And he has seniority in the White House, which means a lot."
Specter, R-Pa., said he was grateful to get the union's backing, which he said was "based upon my record to date and what I can do for Pennsylvania in the future.
"It is especially significant since the Philadelphia regional council knows and has worked extensively with both my opponent and me."
A spokeswoman for Specter's opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel, D-Pa., said Hoeffel "has always fought hard for working families — that's why he has a 100 percent voting record with the AFL-CIO."
"He's been honored to receive support from labor in the past, and we're confident we'll receive support from labor in this race, too," Hoeffel spokeswoman Kristin Carvell said.