Another Florida Labor Union Endorses Reno's Opponent

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - For the second time in less than a month, a labor union has dealt a blow to Janet Reno's gubernatorial bid in Florida by endorsing Reno's rival for the Democratic nomination.

The International Association of Machinists Workers announced Wednesday their endorsement of Tampa attorney Bill McBride. The union said in a statement that McBride, who has never before run for public office, has the best chance of beating Republican Jeb Bush in the November election.

"After much discussion, our members thought Bill could win the primary and was the best candidate to take on Jeb Bush," union legislative director Frank Otis said. "We also believe that Bill will be able to improve education. That's critical to our wish for a better educated workforce to attract high-tech industry."

Otis added, "Our concerns regarding good jobs, high wages and job security hinge on a good education system. We believe Bill McBride will succeed where Jeb Bush has failed."

The primary election is set for Sept. 10. Reno plans to start a statewide campaign soon in a red pick-up truck. She told the Orlando Sentinel she is confident she will be the Democratic Party nominee and plans to rally union support to beat Bush in November.

McBride said he was grateful for the union endorsement.

"Their support and their willingness to talk with friends about my candidacy will be critical to making the change we need to improve Florida's future. I'm excited about this campaign and the direction it's taking," said McBride.

The International Association of Machinists Workers has 14,000 members in Florida. Many employees at the Kennedy Space Center are represented by the union as are workers in airline, defense and sugar industries in North and South Florida.

The Florida Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, recently endorsed McBride over Reno. McBride also has the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Florida Construction and Building Trades Council.

Florida's biggest union, the AFL-CIO is to announce its gubernatorial endorsement on March 23.

Reno has received one union endorsement thus far, from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Competing against Reno for the nomination are McBride, state Representative Lois Frankel and state Senator Darryl Jones.

Despite its many unions, Florida still remains a right-to-work state.

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