JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. Jacob Hummel served as House Minority leader for the past two years, and it would appear he has every intention of remaining in the position despite his new title with the Missouri AFL-CIO.
“Jake has personally committed to me that he is running again and I am proud to support him,” said Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, a Kansas City Democrat.
Hummel’s likely ascension to the post of secretary-treasurer for the Missouri AFL-CIO has been an open secret since last spring, and Hummel’s deep union roots make him an obvious candidate for the job. But the question among House Democrats and their Republican counterparts has less to do with Hummel’s future with labor and more to do with how it might impact his work as minority leader.
Labor won a big victory last year when ‘Right-to-Work’ legislation failed to earn even a simple majority of votes in the House and Senate Democrats essentially negotiated ‘Paycheck Protection’ legislation off the table for at least another year.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Jake the past several years,” said Mike Louis who, along with Hummel, was elected on Monday. Louis assumed the role of President of the Missouri AFL-CIO, effectively making Hummel his second-in-command. “His keen sense to know when and how to negotiate issues that affect working families will serve him well in his new responsibilities with the Missouri AFL-CIO. I look forward to working with Jake to move the issues of the AFL-CIO forward and protect working families and union members.”
Some Republicans privately expressed consternation at the notion of negotiating with a minority leader who was also on labor’s payroll, while a few House Democrats echoed these concerns, worrying that their colleagues in the Republican Party might hold Hummel’s new position on labor’s payroll against him. Others say Hummel’s knowledge of the Capitol relationships will make him an even more effective leader.
“I would argue that organized labor has worked across the aisle more and more already,” said Michael Sean Kelley, principle and founder of the Kelley Group, a St. Louis-based Democratic consulting firm. “He’s built a good coalition. His new role will only cause him to continue to grow relationships inside legislature that will be positive for workers in the state.”
Hummel rose to the position of leader under historically difficult circumstances. Republican’s two-thirds majority in the House make it possible for plenty of legislation to be rammed through the chamber, objections of the minority be damned. But Hummel has managed to retain the loyalty of a sizeable chunk of his members despite occasionally sloppy fights both within the caucus and with Missouri Republicans.
Hummel’s popularity within his own caucus is demonstrated by the mere fact that not a single member has yet declared an intention to challenge him for the post of minority leader in a caucus with several young and ambitious members.
“I am a Jake Hummel loyalist,” Rep. Michael Butler, a St. Louis Democrat, told The Missouri Times. “His recent accomplishment of being selected to leadership in the labor movement will compliment his leadership as a public servant as well. Jake is a superb leader who can handle whatever comes at him, and is used to wearing several hats. I have full confidence that Rep. Hummel will do what’s best for our party and our union.”
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.