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AFL-CIO Won’t Back Stevens

Bucking tradition, the Alaska AFL-CIO has endorsed Sen. Ted Stevens’ (R-Alaska) opponent for the first time in recent history.

In what the union described as an unusually early decision, the 60,000-member organization voted this week to endorse Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) instead.

Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said the union endorsed Stevens in all of his re-election campaigns in recent memory, though Stevens had either a minimal or token challenger in many of those campaigns.

“My sense, having been a 20-year resident of the state, is that he’s not been not endorsed for decades,” Beltrami said. “So this is a significant departure.”

Beltrami lauded Begich’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act, the most significant pro-union legislation in decades, which Stevens did not support.

In the state’s competitive at-large House race, the union endorsed Rep. Don Young (R) and former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (D) in their respective primaries.

Young is getting a tough primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R), who has the backing of many anti-earmark and conservative interest groups. Berkowitz is favored to win his primary against 2006 nominee Diane Benson.

Beltrami noted Young’s vote for the EFCA and said that even if Young loses his primary, ”there’s no way we’d get behind Sean Parnell.”

The AFL-CIO said it will revisit its endorsement for the at-large seat after the Aug. 26 primary.

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