Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Despite some of the recent talk about coal and energy issues in the presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, it seems that the United Mine Workers of America union’s political arm is going to stay out of the fray.
UMWA spokesman Phil Smith told me this morning that an endorsement of either candidate is “highly unlikely” at this point.
So far, Smith said, no state UMWA political councils have recommended such an endorsement to the union’s national political council, which is made up of members of the UMWA International Executive Board. That national council is the body that would vote on any presidential endorsement, Smith said.
In the UMWA’s political work, the endorsement process starts with area political councils, which make recommendations to state councils on state races. State councils then make recommendations to the national council for federal races. But Smith noted that all of the state council meetings for this election have already occurred. There’s still a chance of some movement that would result in a national council vote, but again, Smith said that is “highly unlikely.”
Readers may recall that, after endorsing Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, the mine workers did not make a presidential endorsement in 2012. And as we discussed four years ago, a non-endorsement isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary for the UMWA.
This time around, the much-misconstrued comments from Secretary Clinton about mining jobs and the future of coal country — among other issues — certainly has generated significant support among active UMWA members for Mr. Trump. But remember that union political councils also include retired UMWA members, many of whom may be focused on the union’s troubled pension and health-care benefit plans — an issue that Secretary Clinton has talked repeatedly about, but Trump has ignored.