November 16, 2005

Spitzer union endorsements top a dozen, include Pataki allies

By MICHAEL GORMLEY Associated Press Writer

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday was endorsed by the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the latest of more than a dozen unions to endorse his Democratic campaign for governor in 2006.

Spitzer "has combatted fraud and corruption at every level. He has fought for the working men and women of this state and has restored fairness where there was once injustice," said PBA President Patrick J. Lynch, referring to Spitzer's national investigations on Wall Street and in corporate America.

The union is one of several that have endorsed the Democrat for 2006 and endorsed Republican Gov. George Pataki in 2002. Pataki has declined to seek a fourth term.

Spitzer said in an interview the endorsements "are critical. These unions speak for the real men and women who work every day to keep the streets safe, to produce the goods, and to make New York great and I could not be more thrilled to have endorsements from these unions."

He said the PBA endorsement "is an essential component of my campaign to restore integrity, openness and fairness to state government."

Union endorsements were a big help to Pataki's re-election, said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. He said unions can produce funds, workers for phone banks and campaign events, and create a "bandwagon" effect that can dissuade political opponents from getting into a race.

The endorsement of Spitzer comes as a potential Democratic primary opponent may be emerging. Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who corrected county finances and led a high-profile effort to reform Albany's political gridlock, said he is interested in pursuing higher office someday. Several Republicans and Democrats said Suozzi is considering a run against Spitzer, despite the attorney general's high standing in governor's race polls and his high job-approval ratings.

Last week, Suozzi trounced his Republican challenger by 21 percentage points, becoming the first Democrat to be re-elected to the post in four decades.

Spitzer said he isn't trying to get the endorsements earlier than usual, but said there will be a constant "drum beat" of additional union support.

"Eliot Spitzer is pushing hard for endorsements as early as he can because he's petrified of Tom Suozzi and truthfully he ought to be," said Patrick Manning, a GOP candidate for governor and state assemblyman from Dutchess county. "There are many candidates who have had more original ideas in the last seven months than Spitzer has had in seven years."

There was no immediate response from the other Republican candidates for governor.

Spitzer's endorsements include one in Suozzi's backyard: The Nassau/Suffolk Building Trades Council. Other endorsements have come from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the New York State Professional Firefighters, the Communications Workers of America, the United Auto Workers, the New York State Laborers PAC, and SEIU Local 200.