Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean picked up his first union endorsement today during a rally in Des Moines. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades — Iowa’s 10th-largest union — has chosen Dean and promised a “feet on the street” effort to help Dean win Iowa’s Caucuses. James Williams, general president of the union, worked on behalf of Dean’s rival Richard Gephardt back in 1988, but he says a majority of his union members think Dean has a better shot this time around.Dean told the 100 union members who rallied in Des Moines that while Iraq has dominated the campaign debate thus far, he plans to focus on jobs and health insurance as the two major issues in remaining months of the campaign. Dean says it’ll be a “fight for working people in this country.”Dean’s rival, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt, has won the endorsements of 20 unions. Jerry Miller of Kansas City, Missouri, an organizer for the painter’s union, says his union decided to back Dean because he has more fire than Gephardt. Miller says Gephardt’s been a “pretty good friend of labor” but the painter’s union endorsement is like a shot across the bow at Gephardt.
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