1199 SEIU is going with Bill de Blasio

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1199 SEIU, the powerful health care workers' union, has decided to endorse Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in the Democratic primary for mayor, sources say.

A spokesperson for the union declined to comment. 

The endorsement will be a boost for De Blasio's campaign, which has been counting on his strong ties to labor to distinguish him from the other Democrats trailing Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the polls.

He's currently jockeying with Quinn, former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Comptroller John Liu for one of two spots in an almost-certain Democratic primary run-off. It's very likely that he'll also be contending soon with former congressman Anthony Weiner. 

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De Blasio, who was elected to his current office with a big hand from organized labor, hasn't had much formal union support to speak of so far this year. And he narrowly squeaked out a victory last night in his own political club after three rounds of voting last night.

Despite her long opposition to a union-supported Paid Sick Leave bill, Quinn was believed to have a shot at 1199's support. She is the former chairperson of the Council's health committee, and one of her campaign advisers is Jennifer Cunningham, is a former top operative with 1199 SEIU.

In the short term, the endorsement gives de Blasio something to talk about, after a week that saw some strong developments from the Thompson campaign, which picked up the endorsement of the Bronx Democratic County Organization and has begun to attract special attention from the front-running Quinn campaign.

UPDATE: Shortly after this article went up, de Blasio campaign manager Bill Hyers released the following statement:

"Game-changing is a cliché in politics, but not when it comes to the mayoral endorsement of 1199 SEIU. Representing more than 250,000 members over five boroughs, no endorsement means more than this."

"Winning 1199SEIU's support is important for what it says about our campaign and for what it will do for our campaign. Their support validates our belief that Bill de Blasio is THE PROGRESSIVE CHOICE for New York City Democrats -- and it confirms the strength of our effort. Moreover, their members are some of the most politically active residents of New York City, deeply connected to and active in our communities, and they have pledged to dedicate thousands of volunteer hours for door-to-door canvassing, phone banking and rallies for our campaign. We are honored to have their support."

According to a story now up from the Times, 1199's council vote on the endorsement was unanimous: "The union’s 150-member executive council unanimously backed Mr. de Blasio — something that has not happened, in any citywide primary, in at least 20 years."