The Northwest Washington Central Labor Council has announced its endorsements in the November general election, and two names are notably absent: Whatcom County Council candidates Carl Weimer and Barry Buchanan.
Weimer is an incumbent, facing a challenge from Michelle Luke. Buchanan is challenging incumbent Kathy Kershner.
"We're not a branch campus of the Democratic Party," council president Mark Lowry said in a telephone interview.
The labor council did endorse Whatcom County Council candidates Ken Mann and Rud Browne. Mann is an incumbent, and Browne is challenging incumbent Bill Knutzen.
Local Democrats have been hard at work on behalf of Weimer, Buchanan, Mann and Browne, working out of a large office space on the ground floor of the Herald Building.
Lowry said he thinks it will be best if the region's labor unions endorse fewer candidates than they have in the past, so that the endorsements will mean more: Candidates who win labor's endorsements will get a bigger share of labor's grassroots voter turnout resources.
Lowry stressed that labor is not urging a vote for Weimer's or Buchanan's opponents--just declining to devote resources to supporting either man. Labor has endorsed both Weimer and Buchanan in past elections and could do so again in the future, he added.
As Lowry tells it, Buchanan did not attend the endorsement meeting to make his case, and that automatically disqualified him.
And Weimer? Lowry said he didn't think Weimer was sufficiently focused on labor's issues.
"It was evident that the issues that were important to labor had been lost in a lot of noise," Lowry said.
Lowry said it seemed as though Weimer is among those focused on Gateway Pacific Terminal, to the exclusion of other issues.
Lowry and others in organized labor have been backers of the coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point, as a source of good jobs for union workers.
Lowry said he understands that many people in the community are fiercely opposed to that terminal, and labor unions aren't basing endorsements on any one issue.
"We do not have a problem with people having a problem with Gateway Pacific Terminal," Lowry said.