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Rift over political spending divides huge AFSCME

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – A huge public employee union is choosing a new leader this month in a contest that is turning into a broader debate on how its 1.3 million members’ money is spent on politics.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will select a new president in two weeks. Retiring president Gerald McEntee favors secretary-treasurer Lee Saunders to succeed him. Challenging Saunders is New York state’s AFSCME leader, Danny Donohue.

The union has pledged to spend about $100 million to help President Barack Obama and other union-friendly candidates win election this year. But Donohue says the union should focus less on national politics and more on local elections and galvanizing members. The election follows unions’ failed effort this week to oust Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

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