Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 7:50 a.m.
A year ago, a local union did what public employees across the state and the nation would have liked to do: stood up and declared its disgust with the Republican Party, encouraging its Republican members to drop their affiliation.
This was the Broward County Police Benevolent Association
, which held a "Party to Leave the Party" last July. Our story about the event, in which PBA President Patrick Hanrahan said, "We've been supporting Republican governors for the past 20 years," was picked up by the Daily Kos and garnered 8,000 Facebook shares.
So how are they doing a year later?
Hanrahan says he got a number of calls last year from people supportive of the move who had seen the story online. At the actual event, he says, "We had about 200 people that did it that day."
The union's beef with the Republican administration centers around watered-down pensions and benefits, including a requirement that public employees pay more into their own pension funds.
The union is about to start its annual screening of candidates for endorsements, says Hanrahan, "and we're not behind sending more Republicans to Tallahassee."
Still, to some degree, it's old union buddy politics: "We do have some friends who are Republicans who have stuck with us. Our basic philosophy is, we reward our friends and punish our enemies," he says.
So there you have it: There's not another party-leaving party scheduled for this year, but nobody in the PBA is going to be mad if members drop that party affiliation as an act of protest. More and more cops seem be identifying as independent voters. Broward, of course, is heavily Democratic, shifting the local union's endorsements in that direction. But Hanrahan seems comfortable with his shop's position as a symbol of nationwide discontent, even if individual endorsements depend on specific issues and personal allegiances.
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