The influential 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers Union weighed in on two City Council races today, boosting Brooklyn’s Carlos Menchaca and the Bronx’s Ritchie Torres, in their bid for office this year.
“Carlos Menchaca has the background, experience, and judgment working people need in the City Council,” Kevin Finnegan, 1199′s political director, said in a statement. “A product of Bronx public housing and Bronx public schools, Ritchie Torres reflects the community he is running to represent in City Hall,” he said in another
Neither endorsement is a surprise–they come after the labor-backed Working Families Party backed the pair–but the Menchaca endorsement stands out as he’s working to unseat an incumbent Democratic Councilwoman, Sara Gonzalez. It is relatively rare for labor unions to coalesce around candidates who are not incumbents–indeed, this appears to be the only race across the five boroughs where they have done so this year.
Asked about the powerhouse unions–including 32BJ SEIU–opposing her bid, Ms. Gonzalez brushed them off.
“I would say that there is a movement in the city and some people choose to do that. But, you know, I ran originally with no one–no unions,” Ms. Gonzalez told Politicker outside of her campaign headquarters Saturday. “Everybody else had unions … You know what? I’m not afraid. I’ve been out here all my life. Folks are going to do better because I’m here in office. And we’re going to win.”
On the other hand, Mr. Torres, just 25, is the front-runner in a crowded field to replace term-limited Councilman Joel Rivera. Mr. Torres, a staffer to Bronx Councilman James Vacca, has received a lion’s share of the labor endorsements in the race, including the United Federation of Teachers and Hotel Trades Council.
Additional reporting by Colin Campbell