The curtain rises on the Nevada labor machine


There have been a lot of pieces written recently about the disconnect between Nevada’s terrible economy and President Obama’s lead in the polls here.

Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times tackled the conundrum over the weekend and also wrote a a piece about the Culinary union getting involved in the election after months of slumbering.

The two stories are connected.

The reason that Mitt Romney can’t gain traction in this state, besides his inept messaging, is that the Democrats and their labor allies are such a formidable ground force. For weeks, they have been quiet about it. But today, they came out of the field and into full view.

And look closely, folks: These are the faces that could decide the election – just as they did in 2008 for Obama and 2010 for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

First, the Culinary. The labor giant was never really sleeping. But union leaders bluffed Democrats that they were too busy pounding Station Casinos and negotiating contracts to worry about silly ole politics. This was always an obvious move to encourage ring-kissing – and many Democrats have puckered up. But now the Culinary has abandoned all pretense.

Today the troops were out walking for Rep. Shelley Berkley, who needs a huge turnout down here by Democrats to offset losses to Sen. Dean Heller outside of the South. But they have been going door to door since earlier this month and have now knocked on 45,000 doors. Here’s my guess: Ninety percent of those are Obama voters and at least 80 percent will lock into Berkley, too. Voter registration among Culinary workers, which had fallen off dramatically during the recession, is now up to 2010 levels. Remember all those workers on the Strip who were bused to the polls to help Reid? The magic buses will ride again soon for Obama and Berkley.

Another point not be missed here: Obama is destroying Romney among Hispanics in every reliable poll. The Culinary is THE Latino turnout machine in this state.

If the Culinary is the bedrock of the labor support for Obama and Berkley, the rest of the union folks and some of their allies are building on that with the so-called Nevada New Majority Coalition. They claim to have registered 25,000 new voters and hope to get more by the Oct. 16 deadline.

I have always said registration is not destiny. But if Democrats continue to build their lead in Clark County (now above 100,000) and turn out those voters, neither Mitt Romney nor Dean Heller may be able to offset the leads their foes build down here. If they don’t wake up to that fact – and it may be too late – they will be put to sleep on Nov. 6.