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'Who are these evil teachers who teach your children, these evil policemen who protect them, these evil firemen who pull them from burning buildings? When did we all become evil?'

The headline on this post is a quote from Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. It came from an article at Politco.com by Jeanne Cummings about firefighters and cops who feel a natural ally and friend has turned on them. Here are excerpts:

Many cops and firefighters have thrown their allegiance to the GOP for years — union members who frequently stray from labor’s longtime support for Democrats.

A host of new Republican governors is changing all that.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and others took aim at the GOP’s most powerful labor antagonists but ended up hitting some of the party’s best friends too — leaving public-safety unions fearful this year’s attack on teachers might easily be next year’s attack on them.

It’s a political shift that could have significant repercussions, and not just because these right-leaning union members vote for Republicans in sizable numbers. Angry cops and firefighters make for bad PR — especially after Republicans under President George W. Bush aligned themselves so successfully with the heroes of Sept. 11 in the years since then.

Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his members are “shocked” by the turn of events.

He is traveling the country to rally FOP members to rise up against anti-labor laws in their states or in support of their colleagues in other states. “There is going to be a backlash,” said Canterbury, a former county police officer in South Carolina. “We are going to hold them accountable.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) experienced the blowback firsthand when he attended a recent event for rising leaders in the New York fire department.

“These are down-the-line conservatives. They fully supported Bush in the Iraq war, in the war against terrorism, and on all the gut issues they were there,” King said. “Some of the guys I talked to said, ‘We stood with Bush on Queens Boulevard. Now, the Republicans have turned on us.’ ”

Democrats win their share of public-safety union endorsements, and the International Association of Fire Fighters — which calls itself “the most bipartisan union in the AFL-CIO” — was one of the first unions to endorse Democrat John Kerry in 2004, and later endorsed Barack Obama in 2008.

But for many public safety workers, the Republican party is a natural home, a comfortable fit for these overwhelmingly white, male and often culturally conservative voters. And in turn, they offer the kind of spit-and-polish endorsements that any politician would crave — allowing Republicans to peel off labor support from Democrats and boost their tough-on-crime bona fides at the same time.

Now it looks like the 2011 labor fights won’t just energize the Democratic-leaning union members but could cause some of the Republican-leaning ones to break away.

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