Teamsters president to deliver speech at RNC

Plus, the state of several key Midwestern statehouses.

According to former President Donald Trump, Teamsters president Sean O’Brien will speak at the RNC in July. “When I am back in the White House, the hardworking Teamsters, and all working Americans, will once again have a country they can afford to live in and be respected around the world,” Trump said in a post to Truth Social. 

O’Brien, whose union recently gave its first donation to the RNC in 20 years, will also speak at the DNC in August. The Teamsters president sparked controversy last January when he privately met with Trump. 

“I still can’t believe it,” Richard Hooker Jr, a Teamsters leader from Philadelphia, told The Guardian after O’Brien disclosed the meeting. “As leaders, we have to do a better job of explaining to our members that a vote for Trump is a vote against your pension, a vote for Trump is a vote against organizing workers, a vote for Trump is another vote against the working class.”

The strategy is particularly confusing given that O’Brien made headlines last November when he got into a verbal altercation with Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) during a congressional hearing. Mullin threatened to physically fight O’Brien during the argument.  

Such waffling has created uncertainty around who the Teamsters, whose membership contains around 40-45% Republican voters, will endorse for the presidential race. 

Statehouses in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania at risk of flipping to GOP

While the 2024 election has been primarily dominated by the presidential race, key legislatures in the Midwest — where Democrats hold slim majorities — are also in need of focus. November could see a swing towards state Republicans in states like Michigan and Minnesota, where Democrats run both the state legislative chambers. Meanwhile, a split legislature in Pennsylvania means a domination of the legislative branch is in play for both parties. 

For Minnesota, things are particularly sticky due to the resignation of state Sen. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) to run for Congress. Additionally, state Sen. Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury) is being pressured to step down from both parties after she was recently charged with felony burglary for allegedly attempting to procure her father’s ashes from her stepmother’s house. Should Mitchell depart, Minnesota’s Senate would be a 33-32 split in favor of Republicans. 

Morrison’s seat is solidly blue — the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has handily won the past four elections in the 45th District — but holding on to the governing trifecta won’t be easy, even with a strong showing by Gov. Tim Walz (DFL) in 2023. 

Meanwhile, Michigan Democrats hold an equally tenuous hold in the legislature: a 20-18 majority in the Michigan Senate and a 56-54 tally in the House of Representatives. Like Minnesota, Michigan has a popular and effective governor in Gretchen Whitmer (D), but it also has a politically active and conservative population outside the major metropolitan centers. 

For example, Michigan saw the strongest turnout in 60 years for the 2020 presidential election, yet the margin of victory for President Joe Biden was only 2.8%. 

However, since gaining control of the legislature in 2022, Democrats have passed popular bills that enshrined abortion protections, ramped up gun safety laws and ended right-to-work laws. Plus, the Michigan GOP has been experiencing significant funding problems over the past year. Still, Trump’s polling in the state could mean a shifting tide. 

Lastly, the Pennsylvania General Assembly appears to be a toss-up. Republicans have a healthy lead in the Senate, where they have a six-seat majority, whereas Democrats have only two more seats in the House. Yet Republicans have been unable to take advantage of several special elections since the midterms, so it’s hard to predict exactly how the dozen or so key races in the state will shake out.

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Jamie Larson