Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) - The New Hampshire house of representatives failed Wednesday to override a veto of right-to-work legislation that has drawn the passing support of several GOP presidential candidates.
Supporters could not muster enough votes to block the state's Democratic governor's veto of the bill, which would prevent unions from collecting dues from non-members.
The issue has been hotly debated in New Hampshire and has occasionally bled over into the presidential campaign, when Republican candidates stumping here backed the blow to unions' power.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry touted the legislation before members of the house Wednesday less than two hours before the measure failed to garner the two-thirds of support needed for an override.
"If you pass into law a right-to-work law, you may join my home state and take over the title of the state that's creating more jobs in America than any place in this country," Perry said.
Some legislators rose to cheer his comments while others booed.
Perry added that unions "have their proper role."
"But you shouldn't be forced to join one to feed your family. It should be your choice," he said.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have also spoken in support of the measure.
Huntsman also took the podium at the state legislature Wednesday, and emphasized his commitment to his campaign's New Hampshire strategy.
Both Huntsman and Perry seemed to revel in the role of addressing lawmakers from the podium. The New Hampshire house of representatives is large - with 400 members - and the presence of activists demonstrating both for and against the right-to-work legislation made for a raucous atmosphere.