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Sept. 02--The labor movement is spreading its support across the Democratic gubernatorial field, resulting in an unusually fractured landscape in the run-up to next week's primary and potentially taking the wallop out of the boots-on-the-ground punch organized labor can pack when it otherwise rallies behind a single candidate, observers say
"I think it's really divided," U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said yesterday at the Greater Boston Labor Council'sLabor Day breakfast, the perennial hot spot for political campaigns. "Usually you'll see that everyone will coalesce around one candidate, even in the primary. But in this case, they're pretty evenly divided."
Lynch pointed to state Treasurer Steve Grossman's "long history with labor" and Attorney General Martha Coakley's ability to drum up support after other high-profile runs. Pediatrician Don Berwick, who has made health care reform and the push for a single-payer system a centerpiece of his campaign, has also won some union voters over, Lynch said.
Coakley has cornered a large share of union backing, including Teamsters 25, two International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers locals and the Massachusetts Police Association, among several others.
Grossman has been backed by several unions, including the New England Joint Board of Unite Here.
Berwick hasn't officially received any union endorsements but touted his labor chops at the breakfast yesterday, saying he's "as strong a union supporter as anyone on that stage." Grossman and Coakley also noted their labor support but characterized it as only part of their field operation.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who has stayed neutral in the race but will back the Democratic nominee, said labor support is "pretty split," but believes it can make or a break candidate, citing waves of union support "that certainly helped me" in last year's mayoral race.
"What labor has to do is speak in one voice, though," he said. "That's the key. In my campaign for mayor last year, we spoke in one voice, meaning we had the AFL-CIO and the Greater Boston Labor Council come together. I think it's important to have one voice."
"I think labor will have a very big influence," Lynch said of the race. But, he added, "it will probably be decisive in the final."
Campaigns yesterday were counting their final monthly fundraising haul before the Sept. 9 primary.
Coakley raised $183,979. Berwick raised $243,000 in August, according to his campaign; Grossman drummed up $348,565, including $200,000 from his own pocket; and Republican front-runner Charlie Baker pulled in $228,260, his campaign said.
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