Accordingly, staff in Boilermakers' legislative office prepared a candidate comparison piece listing six candidates--Dean, Edwards, Gephardt, Graham, Kerry and Lieberman--determined to be viable based on cash on hand and experience. The comparison was sent, along with an accompanying memo, a ballot, and an envelope to each of the more than 300 locals in late May 2003.1
Each lodge was encouraged to do a straw poll of members. About half responded. (Responsiveness depends on how active the local is). Results were: Gephardt 57 % of lodges responding, Kerry 18%, Edwards 10%, Dean 10%, Lieberman 6%, Graham 1%, one write-in for Kucinich, and one write-in for Bush.
The Boilermakers' legislative office put all this information together and brought it to Jones at the Boilermakers headquarters in Kansas City, KS. Jones then convened the U.S. vice presidents by phone, and they unanimously decided to endorse Gephardt. After coordinating with the Gephardt campaign, the union announced the endorsement in a conference call on June 23.
1. Originally the idea was to do the straw poll through the union's newspaper, the Boilermaker Reporter, but it is a bimonthly and production on the next issue was near completion with limited space; going that route would not have permitted an early endorsement. In addition to the letter sent out to the lodges, the straw poll was put up on the website as something of an experiment.