The Florida Pipe Trades typically leans Democratic in statewide races and heeds the endorsements of its umbrella organization, the AFL-CIO. Not this year. While the AFL-CIO is backing Democrat Kendrick Meek for the U.S. Senate, the12,000 pipefitters, plumbers and welders are going with Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-independent candidate.
"This is a bit unusual,'' said the union's international representative, John Lindstrom. "We stepped out on this one because we thought it was that important...We have probably 30-35 percent unemployment in our ranks, and we think Gov. Crist has a better handle on it and can feel our pain more than anyone else.''
Lindstrom said the union was also backing Crist for his veto of a bill vehemently opposed by the teachers' union, which co-endorsed the governor and Meek.