A day after getting back from Racine, Wisc., where he campaigned for the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio labor leader Dennis Duffey was stunned by the failed recall.
"I was taken aback," Duffey, head of the state construction unions council, said Wednesday. "I just thought it was going to be a very close election, from the people I came in contact with. In all the little businesses I stopped in, based on my conversations with those people I would have thought it was going to be eight or nine to one for (Democratic nominee Tom) Barrett. Obviously those people weren’t the only ones who showed up to vote."
Or they told Duffey one thing and walked up to the voting machine and voted another way.
Duffey, of Monclova Township, former business manager for 15 years of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8 in Rossford, has been secretary-treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council for the last three and a half years.
He went on this own time to Racine last weekend to talk to registered voters about recalling Walker, whose successful initiative in 2011 to eliminate collective bargaining for many state employees outraged labor unions.
Walker won comfortably, with 53.2 percent to 46.3 percent for Barrett.
Duffey acknowledged that Big Labor has a perception problem.
"A lot of people trust their local unions but they have this vision that these national unions are these big cigar chomping guys," said Duffey, who does not smoke cigars. He said local unions only spend money that their members approve.
Duffey attributed the defeat to Walker's reported overwhelming advantage in spending.
"When you’ve got that kind of money behind you you can do those kinds of things. It's really scary to think what might happen long term in this country with that Supreme Court decision," Duffey said, referring to Citizens United, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on political advertising. "Those that got the most are decide the most."