1199 and O’Connell

1199 SEIU, the powerful health care workers union, has announced that they’re endorsing Republican state Senate candidate Maureen O’Connell in the special election in Nassau.

As Liz notes, the move is a sign of the tension that exists between union president Dennis Rivera and Governor Eliot Spitzer, who have very different views of health care spending. It’s also an indication of the union’s enduring (and pragmatic) alliance with Joe Bruno and the Senate Republicans who are, after all, still in the majority.

In the all-politics-is-local category, the 1199 announcement contains another reason for the endorsement: O’Connell is a former nurse who sided with them while serving in the Assembly. From the release:

“Among the highlights of O’Connell’s healthcare record are her staunch support of major pieces of healthcare legislation including the Health Care Reform Act (HCRA), budget bills that restored billions to the Medicaid program and legislation that expanded Medicaid for persons diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer.”

– Azi Paybarah