ABC News’ Teddy Davis, Donna Hunter, and Jan Simmonds Report: Democratic Senator of Connecticut Chris Dodd has scooped up the key endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Dodd campaign announced Tuesday. Dodd receives the organization’s support at a morning event Wednesday in Washington, DC.
The endorsement of the nation’s 281,000-member firefighter union is a highly coveted one in Democratic politics. The union’s endorsement of a lagging Sen. John Kerry D-Mass., was instrumental in helping him come-from-behind to win the 2004 Democratic nomination for president. Dodd owes his endorsement to his long record in enacting legislation pertaining to the firefighters. He authored the FIRE Act, which gives fire departments the ability to purchase new equipment and initiate education and training programs, as well as the SAFER Act, which gives fire departments the ability to alleviate critical shortfalls in professional and volunteer personnel.
The IAFF have had a well-publicized campaign toward diminishing former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s bid for the presidency. A few months ago they began running a web-page entitled Urban Legend and have released a 13 minute video outlining how Giuliani failed fire fighters before and after 9/11. The Giuliani Campaign contends that their attacks are purely partisan, backed up by their history of endorsing Democratic candidates.
Dodd wlll use this much needed endorcement to try to improve his weak national poll numbers. Dodd and Union President Harold Schaitberger will begin a three day tour through Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
With a hint of nostalgia John Kerry, who keeps a picture at home of Union Leaders Harold Schaitberger and Dave Lang, told ABC News he’ll always be grateful for the Fire Fighters Union’s intense loyalty and friendship. "They were by my side in good days and bad days. There’s no doubt in my mind that when they endorsed my campaign early – when I was lagging in the polls, during some real bumps in the road – they helped keep my campaign going and helped spread our message," Kerry said.