John Edwards, former U.S. Senator from North Carolina and a former candidate for vice president, ended his presidential campaign this morning. The move was expected, but the timing was not.
Just 48 hours ago, Edwards was in Nashville at a rally before an energetic crowd of labor supporters, exhorting them to continue the fight. Everyone in the audience pretty much knew his chances were slim to none, but they were fired up nonetheless.
With today's decision, a highly motivated bloc of political activists have become free agents. They are the men and women of organized labor that were the driving force behind every primary vote that Edwards got. They had an uphill battle all along and turned out as many votes as they could, but it was nowhere near enough.
The problem wasn't with the messengers but with Edwards' message. Democratic voters want "change," but the populist rhetoric of Edwards was a bit too much. The messengers are just as motivated as ever and will likely not coalesce around either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama until after the Feb. 5 "Super Tuesday" elections.
Edwards dropping out will more than likely not provide either of the remaining candidates in the Democratic primary with the margin of victory in any one state next week. It will just affect the margins.
The real fight for Clinton and Obama will be to get those labor activists just as motivated for them as they were for Edwards. While they won't get that support, and aren't expected to, in the next six days, they will need it for the long months of campaigning ahead, regardless of the eventual Democratic nominee.
As a right-to-work state, Tennessee has never been a union bastion like Ohio or Michigan, but organized labor is the silent army in Tennessee for candidates that need phone banks manned, doors knocked on, envelopes stuffed, and crowds gathered for rallies. In places like Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Oak Ridge, organized labor is the engine for political campaigns.
It is not the number of actual union members in Tennessee that counts. It's the organization they put behind and bring to political campaigns. Some unions are already behind Clinton and Obama, but Edwards was the true standard bearer for labor until today.
The person who gave them their message has left the field, but don't underestimate the messengers in November.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS