May 30th, 2011 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Politics

Avakian Picks Up Endorsements, but Not Those Rumored

Brad AvakianBrad Avakian

Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian is off to a good start in his quest to unseat the six-term incumbent in the First Congressional District, U.S. Rep. David Wu.

Earlier this week, Avakian released some polling data in attempt to show other potential candidates, such as State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Beaverton), State Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) and former Rep. Greg Macpherson (D-Lake Osweg0), that they should stay out of the race.

Avakian, a former Washington County lawmaker, also picked up a smattering of labor endorsements: the Washington County Police Officers Association; Tigard Police Officers Association and International Union of Operating Engineers. 

That's a pretty good haul this early in the campaign, but not nearly as good as the rumor that was circulating this week—that Avakian had also gained the endorsements of three powerhouse organizations: SEIU, the state's second largest public employee union; the Oregon League of Conservation Voters; and, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. Any one of those groups, with their large and motivated constituencies, would be impressive. All three would be amazing.

Turns out, however, the rumor is not true. Beth Bernard, OTLA's executive director, says her group has "absolutely not" made any endorsement and will not for a long time. Ed Hershey, the spokesman for SEIU local 503 says the union's process is very deliberate and member driven and will not begin for many months.

OLCV board chairman Stephen Kafoury says his group doesn't start its endorsement process until the candidate filing deadline, which is March 6, 2012.

"We send a questionnaire out to anybody who is a registered candidate after registration closes, and then we invite them for a formal process," Kafoury says. "Brad’s been really good on our issues, but then so has Suzanne Bonamici. And I don’t know who else may be out there. (Macpherson) is also an OLCV board member."

Jake Weigler, Avakian's campaign manager, says the campaign has "had preliminary conversations with some of those groups," but he agrees none has yet agreed to back Avakian.

Weigler, who ran Steve Novick's nearly-successful 2008 U.S. Senate campaign, continues to make the point that a crowded primary field only serves Wu.

"With a divided primary the institutional players may sit on the sidelines early," Weigler says. "And until we’re in the final months of the campaign, you won’t see support translating into media and advertising. By the time a front runner emerges, it could be too late. "
 
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