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(Updates with comment from Sen. Klein)
ALBANY -- Another shoe has dropped.
The influential and deep-pocketed 32BJ Service Employees International Union on Thursday endorsed Sen. Jeff Klein. He’s the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference which recently agreed to align with mainline Democrats to form a Democratic majority in the Senate next year.
The endorsement follows a May agreement struck by the Working Families Party to create a labor coalition to wrest Senate control from Republicans, as explained in Sunday’s Newsday (http://nwsdy.li/1roDTT1).
Klein (D-Bronx) and the five-member IDC has aligned with Senate Republicans to create a historic bipartisan coalition to control the Senate. But the Working Families Party deal supported by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to gain the minor party’s endorsement would end that, unless Republicans win the majority November or win enough seats to coax the IDC back.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to endorse Jeff Klein for Senate,” said Héctor Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU.
An important consideration was Klein’s recent decision to plan to align with the Democrats after the elections to enact more liberal legislation and spending, Figueroa said.
“We need a Democratic Senate to make good on our promises to working families, and we will mobilize our members to make sure Senator Klein is re-elected with a mandate to do so,” Figueroa said.
Klein faces former state attorney general and former New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell in a Democratic primary. Koppell has questioned the IDC’s commitment to joining Democrats. The IDC won’t directly shut the door on sticking with Republicans, depending on how the November elections shape the Senate.
"I'm honored that 32BJ SEIU, an important and active union, supports me for re-election and I look forward to working with them on core Democratic issues in the future," Klein said.
Koppell didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The union is also supporting the planned alliance of Democrats by staying out of other Democratic primaries against IDC members. The union is keeping its members and campaign donations out of the important 11th Senate District race. There, the newest member of the IDC, Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), faces former city Comptroller John Liu.
“Remaining neutral in some primaries will allow us to put more resources into securing a Democratic Senate, which could help to shrink the income gap and open up educational opportunities for more young people,” Figueroa said.