Democratic candidates in District 7 race tussle over local union endorsement

Democratic candidates in District 7 race tussle over local union endorsement

PHOTO: Matt Reel, second from left, and Justin Kanew, third from left, were two of the candidates speaking at the Giles County Democratic Party forum on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. / Screenshot from Kanew campaign video


At a recent forum in Giles County, District 7 candidates Matt Reel and Justin Kanew disagreed about receiving an endorsement from a local union.

Reel, of Hickman County, and Kanew, of College Grove, are Democratic candidates for the District 7 Congressional race to fill Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s seat. Sen. Mark Green, of Ashland City, is the Republican candidate.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, known as the UAW, confirmed they have not endorsed any candidate in the District 7 race.

On July 3, the Giles County Democratic Party hosted a “Meet the Candidates” event in Pulaski.

In a video clip, Reel, a Green Beret recently returned from a mission overseas, is asked by an attendee if he would support organized labor if elected.

Reel responded that he had been endorsed by the UAW in Spring Hill.

“I’ve seen firsthand how the unions help provide care to veterans, allowing front line nurses at veteran’s facilities around the country to focus on their specific jobs and not worry about negotiating with management and not worry about their times and things like that,” he said.

Kanew then spoke, noting his union membership (in the Writer’s Guild of America) and supportive labor union stance, before calling Reel out for misstating his endorsement.

“I gotta say, you don’t have the UAW’s endorsement,” Kanew said.

“In Spring Hill,” Reel insisted.

“You gotta stop saying that,” Kanew said. “You can call and ask them.”

“I did,” Reel said.

“I talked to the president… you can call them right now,” Kanew finished. “You don’t have their endorsement.”

While Spring Hill UAW Local 1853 President Tim Stannard could not be reached for comment, Kevin Huddleston, the chairman of Tennessee’s Community Action Program for UAW said Reel had not been endorsed by the organization.

“The UAW did not endorse any candidate,” Huddleston told the Home Page.

He added that he has contacted Reel and explained the situation to him, as well as sent him a letter from their legal department.

As of Thursday evening, a press release on Reel’s campaign website featured the Spring Hill UAW at the top of his list of endorsements.

Reel’s campaign chair, former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, released the following statement about the situation, noting the difference between the local UAW and state chapter.

“For the record, Matt Reel and the Spring Hill UAW Local 1853 go back to the Bush Administration. When GM announced plans to build some of their engines in Mexico, Matt worked hard to help me challenge GM. GM agreed to move the production to Spring Hill. During a recent Heritage Day event, the Local 1853 agreed to support the Matt Reel campaign, and I was happy to witness it.”

About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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