By Michael Bastasch
Some 1,600 coal miners lost their jobs in May, according to new federal employment data, and that’s not a good thing for Democrats looking to secure support from coal country.
America’s coal industry has already shed 12,500 jobs since May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and industries supporting mining jobs have shed 84,000 employees during that time as well, due to low coal and oil prices.
Economic woes, combined with onerous federal global warming regulations and misstatements by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton are turning coal miners, and union members in general to the GOP.
The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has already thrown its support behind Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s reelection bid, breaking from decades of support for Democratic candidates. UMWA even supported Obama in 2008.
UMWA leadership praised Portman for the support he’s “given both active and retired coal miners and their families, especially in such difficult times as the coal industry is experiencing today.” UMWA endorsed Portman over former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat the coal union had backed in 2006 and 2010.
The coal group’s president argued Trump “reverse the Democratic regulatory assault that has cost the coal industry more than 40 percent of our production and jobs since 2008.”
“We’re going to get those miners back to work,” Trump said at a recent campaign rally. “The miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which was so great to me last week, and Ohio and all over, they’re going to start to work again. Believe me. You’re going to be proud again to be miners.”
Trump had one of his biggest leads in Buchanan County, Virginia — a place where coal runs deep. Trump got 70 percent of the vote there in Virginia’s Republican Primary election.
In 2008, some 2,494 votes from Buchanan were cast in the Democratic primary, and only 679 voted in the Republican primary, according to Bloomberg View. “In 2016, voting in the Republican primary more than tripled from 2008, with Trump winning 1,586 of 2,276 votes cast,” Bloomberg View reported.
Trump’s support for coal stands in stark contrast to statements made earlier this year by Clinton, who said she would put many more miners and coal companies “out of business.” Clinton later walked back her remarks, but the damage was done.