By Adam Pagnucco.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of Maryland’s most powerful labor unions, has targeted District 44 Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam for defeat by running one of their own against her. Aletheia McCaskill, a rank-and-file leader in SEIU Local 500, is announcing her challenge to the incumbent on Saturday. Nathan-Pulliam has antagonized SEIU and several other progressive organizations by dragging her heels on last session’s sick leave bill, which she ultimately voted for.
Several things make this race interesting.
1. SEIU has a record of defeating Senate incumbents, including Nat Exum and David Harrington (Prince George’s County), Rona Kramer (Montgomery County) and George Della (Baltimore City). Their negative mail against Exum was particularly devastating.
One of at least seven anti-Exum mailers from SEIU.
2. Nathan-Pulliam has not had a truly competitive election in her entire career. She walked into her current Senate seat after the incumbent retired and had five straight cakewalk House races before that. She is also not a great fundraiser, raising $77,695 in the 2006 cycle, $72,363 in the 2010 cycle and $124,732 in the 2014 cycle. She reported $33,533 in the bank in January. Those are easy numbers for a big organization like SEIU to overcome.
3. Many labor organizations have supported Nathan-Pulliam over the years, including AFT Maryland, MSEA, the Fire Fighters, the Police, UFCW Local 400, several building trades local unions, the AFL-CIO and SEIU. Those unions have given her more than $30,000 over the last four cycles. How many of them will follow SEIU’s lead and dump the incumbent?
SEIU endorses Nathan-Pulliam in 2014.
4. Nathan-Pulliam has not represented many of her current constituents all that long. True, she has been in office since 1994. But her district has changed substantially since then. District 44 now includes a portion of the western part of Baltimore City along with Lochearn, Woodlawn, Catonsville and the areas around US-40 and I-70 in Baltimore County. Prior to that, Nathan-Pulliam represented District 10. During the 2000s, District 10 did not include any part of the City and during the 1990s, the City portions it did include are not part of today’s District 44. This somewhat erodes the advantage a decades-long incumbent would normally have.
5. At age 78, Nathan-Pulliam could decide not to fight SEIU and simply retire.
We reprint McCaskill’s kickoff announcement below.
Event: Working Families Democrat and SEIU Union Leader Aletheia McCaskill announces a Democratic primary challenge in Maryland’s 44th State Senatorial District
Date: September 9, 2017, 2:00-4:00
Where: Karate Family Center 1101 N. Rolling Road, Catonsville, MD 21228
Aletheia McCaskill is a wife, mother, activist and advocate who has owned her own small business providing early learning child care services to the residents of West Baltimore and Western Baltimore County for over 20 years. She got involved on issues of economic justice such as the fight for fair wages and earned sick leave legislation because of the reality she saw in the lives of the families whose children she provided care for. She has been the Statewide Political Member Leader for the largest Maryland local in the Service Employees International Union and has been a leader in the fight in Baltimore and Annapolis to pass the Women’s Economic Security Agenda- a package of bills aimed at providing some measure of economic stability for the working families of the 44th. Aletheia believes that the 44th District deserved a choice, she wants to be our voice in Annapolis fighting for stronger schools and for finally giving our Seniors the services and facilities WITHIN the 44th, that they deserve.
For Press or scheduling, please contact:
Mark Jason McLaurin, Political Director
SEIU Local 500
901 Russell Avenue, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
(301) 740-7100 – Voice