Progressives pushed back strongly Thursday to reports that Nancy Pelosi is lobbying the Biden administration to nominate former congressman Sean Patrick Maloney for U.S. labor secretary, with one critic accusing the former House speaker of "doing a last bit of Silicon Valley donor service" for someone who "has no real relationship with labor."
According toNBC News, Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been making calls on behalf of Maloney urging the White House and union leaders to back the former five-term corporate Democrat for labor chief. Current Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is expected to resign in the near future so he can take a job heading the National Hockey League Players Association, although the White House has not yet confirmed his departure.
While Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su, a progressive who formerly headed California's labor agency, is believed to be the favorite to replace Walsh, Pelosi's push for Maloney—an adept fundraiser who led the Democrats' campaign arm in the House and was a member of the corporate-friendly New Democrat Coalition—is a cause for concern and consternation among worker advocates.
Opponents of Maloney's nomination noted he's a corporate-friendly centrist who not only lost his midterm reelection bid in "humiliating" fashion but, as ex-chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was widely blamed for his party's failure to hold control of the House.
"Make no mistake, Maloney is a corporate hack: he was a member of the New Democrat Coalition, the caucus of Congressional Democrats that exists to do the bidding of giant companies under a pretense of being 'moderate,'" Max Moran, the personnel team research director at the Revolving Door Project, said in a statement Thursday. "Nothing in his record indicates any unique relationship with labor, but he has quite strong relationships with the CEOs and executives who often try to undermine labor."
"There's no reason for Maloney to wield power or influence over federal politics for the foreseeable future, and certainly no reason to promote him to labor secretary," Moran argued.
Two words dominated the social media conversation surrounding Maloney's prospective nomination: failing upwards.
"If your boss gave you an important assignment that you failed to accomplish, and it made your boss' job immensely harder, would you expect a promotion?" Moran asked rhetorically.
As Moran explained:
As the leader of House Democrats' campaign arm in 2022, Sean Patrick Maloney failed to hold the Democratic majority. He is the first Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair to lose his own race in 40 years. Some of his biggest failures were in his home state of deep-blue New York! This was the guy who was supposed to keep Rep. George Santos [R-N.Y.] from winning! His failure has all but demolished any hopes of major new legislation for the remainder of this Presidential term.
He wasn't trying especially hard at this crucial job: Maloney spent part of October partying with European millionaires under the auspices of fundraising, instead of pumping money into battleground races and campaigning. Imagine promoting a DCCC chair who didn't even campaign in his own district, let alone for his colleagues. Imagine promoting a politician who wasn't even in the country in the home stretch of an election!
"If after his excellent, blue-collar State of the Union, President [Joe] Biden lets a corporate hack fail upwards into the Labor Department, it would send a message to the public to believe exactly none of what he said," Moran added.
On Wednesday, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus endorsed Su for labor secretary, noting there are no Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander cabinet secretaries in the Biden administration.
"Deputy Secretary Su has dedicated her career to the promotion of workers' rights and fair labor practices and to advancing equity and opportunities for all workers, including ones from historically underserved communities," the caucus said in a statement." She would be a stellar, exceptionally qualified candidate to be secretary of labor and would deliver results for American workers and the Biden-Harris administration immediately upon her confirmation."