The leader of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Chuck Canterbury, told The Hill that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent a message through her staff that she wouldn’t be seeking the group’s endorsement. The union represents a strong political force at 335,000 members.
“It sends a powerful message. To be honest with you, I was disappointed and shocked,” Canterbury told The Hill. “You would think with law enforcement issues so much in the news that even if she had disagreements with our positions, that she would’ve been willing to say that.”
An endorsement from large union like the National Fraternal Order of Police should be highly desirable for any political candidate, because it generally means that the candidate can count on a lot more votes. However, politicians don’t want endorsements from groups that could make them look bad by association, such as the KKK or ISIS. By saying that she doesn’t want the National Fraternal Order of Police to endorse her, Clinton is sending a strong message that she groups the FOP into the same category as hate groups.
Clinton’s staff must believe that an endorsement from police officers will actually cost her more votes than an endorsement would gain. This is scary, because if an endorsement from police would make her lose votes, then it stands to reason that Democratic politicians can expect to gain voters by attacking law enforcement. While politically motivated attacks on law enforcement have already become popular, Clinton’s stance indicates that things may get a whole lot worse.
While Democratic candidates are not usually endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the union is a bipartisan organization and it can still be a good political strategy for Democratic candidates to court their endorsement. The union only endorses a candidate who gets a two-thirds vote among members. If a Democratic candidate can take over one-third support, then the union will not endorse the Republican candidate. That’s what happened in 2012 when the union didn’t endorse a candidate after members couldn’t get a two-thirds majority to endorse Obama or Romney.
When asked to comment on why Clinton did not want the union’s endorsement, Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said, “Throughout her career, Hillary Clinton has been committed to our law enforcement officers.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is actively seeking the union’s endorsement.