The PJ Tatler

Texas GOP Senate candidate Tom Leppert sought and got SEIU endorsement...says SEIU (Updated: SEIU piles on)

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, one of the half dozen or so Republicans running in the primary to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison next year, has a problem on his hands. While he has been positioning himself as a conservative, which is the only viable case to make in a Texas statewide GOP primary, the knock on him from the grassroots has been that he did not govern as mayor as a conservative. And now, there’s word that in spite of statements to the contrary, Leppert looked for and got the union label.

Former Mayor Tom Leppert was pulled unwillingly into the race for Dallas mayor today when Mike Rawlings noted that his pledge to support the Service Employees International Union was no different from a pledge Leppert made in 2007.

That is a bit sticky for Leppert, who as you know, is now running from the hard-right to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Leppert’s campaign issued a statement trying to distance him from any pledge he may or may not have signed in 2007 but stopped short of saying he didn’t sign something endorsing SEIU.

“Tom would not sign anything supporting forced collective bargaining for all workers. He believes workers have a right to join a union if they choose, but more importantly, Tom has actively campaigned for workers’ essential right to choose not to join a union if they don’t want to by expanding Right to Work,” said spokesman Shawn McCoy.

Follow the original link up top. Leppert appears to have sought support from Democratic state Sen. Royce West for a specific policy that benefited unions including SEIU, and SEIU has provided proof of Leppert’s request in the form of a letter to West. They have also produced a union newsletter in which Leppert is shown gladhanding at SEIU HQ, and says the then mayor and deputy mayor, now Mayor Dwaine Caraway, appeared at the union hall “to show their support for the Union.”

Perhaps most damaging, though, is this photo of Leppert sporting an SEIU shirt. It’s in black and white, but presumably it’s one of the purple shirts that have become synonymous with union thuggery over the past couple of years. That photo indelibly links Leppert to President Obama’s favorite union, and Obama is not popular in the state of Texas at all. It’s similar in content to the 2008 photo of former Rep. Chet Edwards proudly speaking behind a podium festooned with the Obama logo — a photo that contributed to Edwards’ defeat in 2010. The photo of Tom Leppert wearing the SEIU’s colors will end up in every one of Leppert’s rivals’ ads and mailers from now to next March.

Update: The SEIU apparently doesn’t like a politician that doesn’t stay bought, I mean, on their side. Dallas SEIU comms director Shannon Perez sent the Dallas Observer’s blog, Unfair Park, a “Liar, liar, pants on fire” list of several ways Leppert cozied up to the union while mayor. Among other things, that letter cited above supported a policy that would have begun the process leading to unionize some Dallas city workers.

Pass the popcorn and don’t spare the butter…