Speaking at an AFL-CIO labor federation event on Monday, Strickland said Scalia’s death resulted in a split 4-4 Supreme Court decision challenging the system public-sector unions use to collect dues from members. (Scalia died on February 13; the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association on March 29.) The deadlock affirmed a lower court ruling that allowed the system to stay intact ― a major victory for unions.
“The death of Scalia saved labor from a terrible decision,” Strickland said in audio that the conservative news site NTK Network recorded. “And I don’t wish anyone ill, but it happened at a good time, because once that decision had been made it would have been tough to reverse it.”
Strickland backtracked from his comment on Wednesday.
“That was an insensitive remark and I apologize,” he said.
Strickland, who served as Ohio governor from 2007 to 2011, is challenging Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for his seat. Both candidates have courted unions throughout the campaign. While Strickland has the support of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union federation, Portman has received nods from the Ohio Teamsters and three other unions that backed Strickland in previous races.
HuffPost Pollster, which tracks publicly available opinion polls, currently shows Portman leading Strickland: