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ProVote only gives Rodney Hubbard a 44 percent rating on his votes on progressive issues.  Why is that? I asked him, when I interviewed him last Monday.  He answered that it was because his pro-voucher stand had created friction between him and local labor unions.

His pro-voucher position (which, in and of itself, would have lowered his ProVote score) had offended the unions as well, he said, and they had threatened to raise $100,000 to come after him.  The threat made him angry enough to lash out at them when a workmen’s comp bill came up in the legislature.  When it did, they came asking for his vote, but he was ready to show them that there was a price to pay for their threats, and he voted against it.

“Would you have voted for it, if the friction hadn’t been there?” I asked him.  “Yes,” he told me. 

He also holds a grudge against local unions for refusing him support in his most recent primary contest.  He says that they told him they don’t intervene in contests between two Democrats.  But Hubbard is quick to point out that they supported Matt Muckler, who is white, when he ran for a state rep seat from Ferguson against John Bowman, an African-American candidate–even though Muckler had $40,000 before the race started and hardly needed their support.  (Bowman is, by the way, currently under indictment for bank loan and credit card fraud.)

Despite the low rating from ProVote, Hubbard is proud of the strong approval he has within his community as a result of working to help his constituents.  He learned the importance of helping people, he says, from his parents.  His mother worked for thirty years in the Department of Corrections and is now a probation and parole officer.  His father ran the Carr Square public housing project.

Rodney spends a good deal of his time helping this constituent or that find a job, or figure out, say, how to pay for a cousin’s funeral.  “My blessing in politics is that I’m blessed to be involved with the people who put me in office,” he says.  He believes that people would vote him out of office if he wasn’t there for them.

He also works for them in the corridors of power.  He has been coordinating with Rodney Boyd and the mayor’s office to put another 3,000 jobs on the table for his constituents in the next three years.  And he points out that this year he successfully lobbied Alan Icet, (R-Wildwood) chairman of the House Budget Committee, to move a million dollars into a re-entry program for ex-offenders to give them the skills they need to make the transition from prison to working life.

Hubbard manages such feats, he believes, by working successfully with Republicans.  He and Ted Hoskins (D-Berkeley) are the only two Dems in the House with committee chairmanships, he says with pride.  It is unheard of for the majority party to give committee chairmanships to members of the minority party.

Some within the Democratic caucus view his relationship with Republicans with a jaundiced eye.  They complain, for example, that he and Hoskins have their offices on the third floor of the Capitol building.  That’s where the plum offices are, and all the other reps on that floor are Republicans.  They distrust someone who hangs with the opposition. 

Hubbard is well aware that some refer to him as Republican lite, but as far as he’s concerned, if he’s working for the poor people that make up most of his constituency, then he’s a good Democrat.

(I’ll be interviewing Robin Wright Jones next Monday.  Tune in Tuesday for the posting.)