By Raymund Lee Flandez
ANNAPOLIS – One of the nation’s largest labor unions is so adamantthat its chosen Charles County Democratic primary candidate become thevictor that it is urging members to “single-shot” Jim Jarboe of La Platafor one of three delegate slots in Tuesday’s election.
In the tight five-candidate race, the AFL-CIO has backed just Jarboe,even ignoring one of two incumbents who applied for the union’sendorsement, in hopes of ensuring Jarboe the third seat.
Other candidates call the tactic unfair.
In June, the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, proclaimed itsfull support, financially and publicly, for a single candidate in thedistrict: Jarboe. In recent weeks, the group also urged its membersthrough mailed brochures to vote “single-shot” on the ballot – for Jarboeonly and to leave blank the other two spots when they vote Tuesday.
“There wasn’t another candidate who met our criteria (forendorsement),” said Craig Simpson, union spokesman. “We’re urging peopleto only vote for Jim.”
The union hopes this will lock up the third spot in the primary for Jarboe, if the two incumbents, Delegate Van T. Mitchell of La Plata andDelegate Samuel Linton Jr. of Nanjemoy, retain their nominations.
Simpson said the union has about 1,500 registered Democrats inDistrict 28 who are union members.
The other candidates decry the method used by Jarboe supporters.
“I think that’s a counter-productive strategy,” said candidate GaryHodge of White Plains, a former executive director of Tri-County Councilfor Southern Maryland. “That’s not a tactic that I would use.”
Candidate Sally Jameson of Bryantown found it offensive. To ask peopleto single out a candidate is the same as giving up the freedom to vote,she said.
“To think that there would be organizations that would give that up .. . for their candidates,” said Jameson, executive director of thecounty’s Chamber of Commerce. “That did upset me.”
Jarboe said he has no control over how his union supporters are campaigning for him.
“(Jarboe) wasn’t part of any of our decision,” Simpson said. “Wehaven’t had a conversation about the brochure or anything else. We do ourown independent effort.”
Jarboe said the criticism from other candidates and their supporterson this topic – what he calls just the normal result of being endorsed -was brought unfairly to him. Jameson particularly, he said, has run someunfavorable ads about him that he said distorted his views ontransportation, taxes and the death penalty.
“She blames me for the single-shot vote,” Jarboe said. “I’m not goingto apologize for being the only one recommended to the membership. That’sdone all the time.”
Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, D-Charles, however, was taken aback by the narrow focus of union involvement in this race.
“People that have been very understanding and supportive of laborissues were sort of left out of the picture in the endorsement,” he said.
Many candidates, particularly incumbent Linton, were passed overbecause the union knew he wouldn’t have any problem getting his seatback, Middleton said.
Linton did apply for the union’s backing but was denied, the unionsaid.
“We didn’t feel that the answers he gave didn’t measure to ourstandards,” Simpson said. Once general election campaigns are under way,the organization said it will consider endorsing other candidates.