Spitzer gets his first labor endorsement, from a union that clashed with Cuomo

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Eliot Spitzer is about to announce the endorsement by the Civil Service Employees Association of New York, which will be the first union to endorse his bid for New York City comptroller.

Until today, every union endorsement in the race has gone to his lesser-known, less controversial rival, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

The collective political strength of the unions that are backing Stringer dwarfs anything the CSEA can deliver, but the endorsement gives Spitzer's team a helpful response to Stringer's argument that the people who worked with Spitzer when he was governor are opposing his comptroller bid.

In a statement, Spitzer said he was "thankful for the support of CSEA," and, "We had a constructive working relationship while I was in the Governor's office, and I look forward to working with them again."

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CSEA, which is primarily known for its influence in Albany, is the largest public-employee union in the state and claims more than 15,000 members and retirees in New York City.

There may be an enemy-of-my-enemy aspect to the endorsement. CSEA has been a vocal critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who threatened to lay off state employees if they didn't agree to a modest new contract while he cut state spending. The union eventually reached a deal with Cuomo, but recently attacked the governor's plan to create "tax free zones" around the state.

Cuomo and Spitzer have never gotten along, and Cuomo's Troopergate investigation was a key factor in the unraveling of Spitzer's governorship.