Apr 14, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Teamsters make another move toward GOP

Josh Hawley's head is highlighted against a wooden background

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Teamsters union's political action committee is jumping into the Missouri Senate race, contributing $5,000 to Sen. Josh Hawley's re-election campaign, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: It's the latest indication that one of the country's biggest and most powerful labor unions — which has yet to endorse in the presidential election — is willing to back Republicans who share its priorities.

  • In the past, the PAC has given overwhelmingly to Democrats, but Hawley has made a point to align himself with the labor movement, joining picket lines with the Teamsters and the United Auto Workers.
  • In total, Hawley's first-quarter fundraising report will show that he raked in $2.56 million through April 1 and has $5.48 million cash on hand, according to a Hawley adviser.

The other side: Hawley's likely Democratic opponent, Lucas Kunce, raised over $2.25 million in the first quarter, with Democrats eyeing a potential statewide vote on abortion rights as a way to make the race competitive.

Zoom out: Historically, the Democratic Party and unions have been close to synonymous, with union leaders sending big checks to their candidates and using their members to run ground games on Election Day.

  • But Republicans, led by former President Trump, have made inroads with working-class voters, if not all of their leaders.

The United Auto Workers, led by Shawn Fain, has endorsed Biden, but Trump is working the Teamsters hard. He paid a personal visit to the union's president, Sean O'Brien, in January.

  • Afterward, Trump claimed he had a "good shot" at receiving the endorsement from the Teamsters, which has approximately 1.3 million members.
  • In January, the Teamsters' political arm contributed $45,000 to the Republican National Committee's convention fund, its first big donation to the RNC since 2004, according to the Washington Post.
  • The Teamsters also contributed $135,000 to the Democratic National Committee last year.

Zoom in: Hawley, first elected to the Senate in 2018, has worked to burnish his pro-union credentials inside the chamber and on picket lines.

  • Last month, Hawley joined Teamsters workers on strike at Graybar Electric outside St. Louis.
  • In late 2022, he voted for an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to add seven paid sick days to the rail workers' contract.

By the numbers: In the 2022 election cycle, the Teamsters PAC gave $1.28 million to Democratic candidates and $30,000 to Republicans, according to OpenSecrets.

  • In 2020, its Democratic tilt was even more pronounced, with the PAC giving $1.59 million to Democrats and $37,000 to the GOP.

The bottom line: There's still some deep — and personal — animosity between the Teamster president and some Republican senators.

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