Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Obama racks up a major endorsement

From Reuters:

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - After a much-needed win in New Hampshire, Democrat Hillary Clinton received a new challenge on Wednesday when Nevada's most influential union endorsed rival Sen. Barack Obama's U.S. presidential bid.

The Culinary Workers Union, whose 60,000 members service the famed hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas strip, is a major political force in the state, which holds the next Democratic contest on January 19.

Clinton, the New York senator hoping to become the first woman president, had led in polls in Nevada and courted the union and Hispanics, which make up 45 percent of the union's membership, so the decision will be a disappointment to her.

"It's a little bit of a surprise," said David Damore, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "A lot of people expected, especially after Clinton's turnaround in New Hampshire yesterday, that they would go for the establishment candidate."

Democrats moved up the Nevada primary to third for 2008 because the Western state, with its large Hispanic population and diverse mix of people, was seen as more representative of the rest of the United States than Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Culinary Union endorsement is also a setback to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who worked hard to build labor support in the key primary states and finished third in New Hampshire, well behind Clinton and Obama.

Nevada is considered a political swing state that could go either Republican or Democrat in the general election in November, and it has backed the winner every year since President Richard Nixon in 1972.

Obama suffered a setback but he is hardly out of the race. He is also still favored to win in South Carolina and his standing in the national polls is still nearly even with Clinton.