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IATSE to back Gephardt for U.S. prez

Candidate's labor ties shore up campaign fundraising

WASHINGTON — The Intl. Alliance for Theatrical Stage Employees is set to endorse Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) for president today.

The move is hardly a surprise: Gephardt maintains strong ties to organized labor and IATSE in particular.

The union, which represents more than 100,000 members employed in the stagecraft, motion picture, TV production and trade show industries, invited Gephardt to speak at its 2001 convention in Chicago.

But Gephardt’s poor fundraising performance during the last quarter (he was more than $1 million short of his stated goal in the latest filing) has left an opening for other candidates to vie for union financial support and endorsements.

Still, the former House minority leader is far ahead of the pack in attracting coin from big labor. So far this year, Gephardt has collected $102,475 from unions, including $2,000 from Screen Actors Guild prexy Melissa Gilbert.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) banked $15,000, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) banked $11,000, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean gathered $5,796 and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) raised $500 from a variety of labor unions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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