Healthcare Workers’ Union Launches Radio Barrage for Tish James

Councilwoman Tish James.

City Councilwoman Tish James.

With less than a week to go before the runoff election in the public advocate’s race, 1199 SEIU is dropping $150,000 on radio ads in support of Councilwoman Tish James.

The sizable purchase comes as the healthcare workers’ union, the largest in the city, looks to play an outsized role in the Democratic primary after successfully backing Bill de Blasio’s mayoral bid.

The ads, which are set to begin airing today on large news and Spanish-language radio stations, are aimed at helping Ms. James compete with her rival, State Senator Daniel Squadron, when voters head to the polls October 1. Mr. Squadron has maintained a steady fund-raising advantage throughout the primary–raising more than twice as much as Ms. James, campaign finance records show.

“The nurses and caregivers of 1199 SEIU are going full force for Letitia James because she is the real progressive Democrat who is standing up for access to quality healthcare, good jobs with paid sick days and a living wage,” the union’s president, George Gresham, said in a statement to Politicker. “Hundreds of 1199 volunteers are knocking on doors around the city, and we’re phone banking, sending mail and email, posting to Facebook, tweeting and advertising, including the top radio stations.”

The minority-heavy union has aimed much of its efforts at attracting minority and female voters. In addition to the ads, 1199 is planning to send out 260,000 robocalls to “frequent Democratic women voters” to help Ms. James, according to a union spokesman, and will purchase space to place Tish James stickers on 40,000 covers of El Diaro in the days leading up to the primary. Two mailers, at a total cost of about $200,000, will also be sent out to Democratic households.

All of the expenditures are independent and therefore cannot be coordinated with the James campaign–a source of tension in the race. Mr. Squadron has repeatedly decried the presence of independent expenditures in this year’s elections. But Ms. James said during a debate on Tuesday that she “will not deny labor unions speaking on behalf of working people of the City of New York.”

Listen to the radio ad below:

Healthcare Workers’ Union Launches Radio Barrage for Tish James