More than 60,000 union members living in the North Bay are expected to receive a slate mailer in the coming weeks bearing recommendations for who they should vote for in the June primary.
A candidate endorsed by the North Bay Labor Council, in turn, can benefit from hundreds of volunteers manning phone banks, walking precincts and performing other campaign duties.
However, the council is taking what may be an unprecedented pass on endorsing in the 10th Assembly District primary, featuring incumbent Assemblyman Marc Levine, Santa Rosa Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom and Marin college trustee Diana Conti.
The more than 60 labor groups represented by the council are splintered over which of the candidates to back for the Assembly seat, which covers Santa Rosa south of College Avenue, Petaluma and Marin County.
“It's not where we want to be,” Jack Buckhorn, the labor council's president, said of the divisions in the race.
Observers attribute the situation to redrawn political boundaries, the fairly new top-two primary system and to the candidates, who have varying degrees of labor support — as well as opposition.
“To live in an area where Democrats and working people have choices amongst friendlies, so to speak, that certainly makes for more interesting politics,” said Tim Aboudara, president of Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401, which has endorsed Carlstrom.
The list of labor groups endorsing Levine, D-San Rafael, includes unions representing building trades, police officers, nurses and government workers. Labor groups so far have contributed $47,350 to Levine's re-election campaign, finance records show.
Carlstrom's endorsements include unions representing nurses, teachers and firefighters. Her take from labor so far: $28,900.
Conti, whose labor support includes the Service Employees International Union, has taken in $8,200 from the organization.
Lisa Maldonado, executive director of the North Bay Labor Council, said having more than one labor-friendly candidate in the race “is not the worst problem in the world to have.”