Unions Target California Democrat Over Vote on Trade

Unions are searching for a primary opponent to Costa over his trade stance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:40 p.m. | Updated to better define Rob England's job title. The Democrats' battle over trade is not yet over, but unions are already zeroing in on a scapegoat: California Rep. Jim Costa.  

Costa is one of 28 Democrats who voted for Trade Promotion Authority last week — a vote that would give President Barack Obama the power to negotiate a trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations. Unions, which say Obama's plan will cost jobs in the U.S., have frozen campaign contributions to Democrats and threatened to put up candidates in primaries against those who support Obama's trade agenda.  

Democrats Frustrated by Unions' Cash Freeze Over 'Fast Track'

Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO, which has frozen campaign contributions to Democrats over a trade bill being debated in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of Democrats' best team players on the campaign finance front is playing hardball this cycle, withholding campaign cash over a package of trade bills being debated in Congress.  

The AFL-CIO, along with some public sector unions, announced a campaign finance freeze in March. Unions hoped the threat of withholding contributions would scare Democratic lawmakers out of supporting President Barack Obama's Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast track," to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement labor groups say would hurt manufacturing jobs in the U.S.