Ex-U.S. Rep. David Bonior, Michigan DINO

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Former congressman wants to end secret-ballot union elections

Former Macomb County Congressman David Bonior, who managed John Edwards' unsuccessful presidential campaign, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday. Bonior compared the 2008 election to pivotal moments in political history such as Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932 and John F. Kennedy's in 1960.

"The American people want a new direction. They want fundamental change, big change, I think," Bonior said during a media conference call with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a co-chair of Obama's campaign.

He praised Obama for creating a "movement" of supporters who had disengaged from politics in the past or were engaging for the first time.

The endorsement provides Obama what could be valuable support from a close ally of organized labor. In the long 2008 primary season, Obama has struggled to attract support from union voters, and union officials in Michigan such as state AFL-CIO chief Mark Gaffney have questioned whether Obama is sympathetic enough to the concerns of manufacturing workers.

Bonior is close to officials in the United Auto Workers and other unions, and his enthusiastic support could help Obama with the blue-collar workers whom Sen. Hillary Clinton has won over. Clinton and her campaign have cited her strength with blue-collar workers, and particular working families, as a reason for her to remain in the race.

"I think most members of the labor community will be very comfortable with Barack Obama because of his record, the new people and energy he brings to the race and because of his passion on the key issues facing working families," Bonior said.

As examples, he cited Obama's support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize workplaces, and tougher safety regulations.

Bonior predicted that Obama would meet or exceed the performance of previous Democratic nominees with voters in union households, a key Democratic constituency.

He joined Edwards' 2008 campaign early in the effort, and was installed as his campaign manager in summer 2007. Edwards has the support of many industrial unions, a strength that Bonior helped to solidify.

Edwards has remained neutral in the race. Bonior said he discussed the campaign with Edwards this past weekend, but would not share what he called a private conversation.

"He'll make his decision when he's ready and I'm not prepared to share where he is or where he may be," Bonior said.


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