Golden Rival Kemmerer Nabs 32BJ SEIU Endorsement

32BJ SEIU rally (New York Observer file photo).
32BJ SEIU rally (New York Observer file photo). Observer file photo

James Kemmerer, the long-shot Democratic challenger to Brooklyn GOP State Senator Martin Golden, today picked up his first endorsement from a politically powerful union–32BJ SEIU,.

The union, which represents building maintenance workers and office cleaners, cited its commitment to putting the Democrats in control of the upper house of the state legislature in its statements supporting Mr. Kemmerer. Liberals have long argued that Republican legislators have blocked initiatives that would grant state tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, create a system of taxpayer-financed elections and permit municipalities to set their own minimum wages.

“This is a defining moment in New York politics. Democrats are ready to take the majority in the State Senate. For too long the current Republican-led Senate has failed working families by refusing to pass much needed legislation such as the DREAM Act, campaign finance reform and a bill that would allow New York City the ability to set a higher minimum wage,” said Héctor Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, told the Observer. “Our members are proud to endorse James Kemmerer. We will work hard to make sure he is elected because we know James will fight for working families and to reform our broken political system.”

Mr. Kemmerer, a web developer suffering from a severe lack of name recognition and financing, heralded the labor group’s support as a breakthrough. The candidate, who has devoted most of his election effort to attacking the way Mr. Golden collects and spends campaign funds, promised to collaborate with the union on its agenda.

“Fighting for the middle class is the reason I’m running for State Senate. My top priorities are the same priorities that 32BJ is pushing to make New York better. The hard working-members of 32BJ deserve a State Senate who will look for their interests and the working class, not the interests of the donor class,” said Mr. Kemmerer. “I look forward to working with 32BJ on issues like raising the minimum wage, education and public transportation.”

32BJ SEIU reportedly has 70,000 members in New York, making it the largest private sector union in the state. The labor group broke with its sister organization, 1199 SEIU, which recently endorsed Mr. Golden for re-election–even though it too had vowed to win the State Senate for the Democrats.

The union also backed Mr. Golden’s unsuccessful 2012 rival, Andrew Gounardes. Mr. Golden’s camp declined to comment on this year’s endorsement. Golden Rival Kemmerer Nabs 32BJ SEIU Endorsement