The 31,000 member California Correctional Peace Officers Association, long a major political power with the clout to pass tough sentencing laws, elect sympathetic politicians and win major contract concessions from the state, seems to have lost a step in recent years, the Sacramento Bee reports. The union has gone more than a year without a contract, failed to stop a major prison construction bill, lost 35-1 in a bid to torpedo a key gubernatorial appointee and endorsed a gubernatorial candidate who lost by 1.2 million votes.
The union’s growth during the 1980s prison-building boom turned it into a major political player in the 1990s, the Bee says. The union’s influence waned in 2003 after the recall of its ally, Gov. Gray Davis and his replacement by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Its Democratic candidate for governor, Phil Angelides, was crushed in last year’s election, but the union still spent $6.2 million during the 2005-2006 election cycle, and supported a slate of 114 legislative candidates.