Bernie Sanders Gets Backing From Leading Union and a Liberal Group

Senator Bernie Sanders at a town hall-style meeting in Dubuque, Iowa, on Saturday.

By Maggie Haberman and Alan Rappeport – – – – –

Senator Bernie Sanders received the endorsement of the Communications Workers of America on Thursday, giving the Democratic presidential hopeful his biggest union nod as he heads into the homestretch before votes are cast in the nominating contests.

The 700,000-member union’s board voted to make the endorsement on Thursday. In a telephone interview before the vote was cast, Chris Shelton, the labor group’s president, said that while the union has worked with Hillary Clinton in the past, his members wanted someone who was not part of “politics as usual.” Mr. Sanders, he said, was seen as an attractive candidate for “standing up to the big banks.”

The endorsement will likely translate into grass-roots energy as opposed to television ads, Mr. Shelton said, acknowledging that Mr. Sanders has said he does not support “super PACs” (the union representing nurses has a PAC that has spent more than $550,000 in support of Mr. Sanders so far.)

But he predicted it would give Mr. Sanders a boost.

So far, Mrs. Clinton has picked up a majority of the major labor support, getting the backing of the two biggest teachers’ unions, as well as the American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees, and S.E.I.U.

Polls continue to show Mrs. Clinton ahead in Iowa. In New Hampshire, Mr. Sanders’s neighbor state, it appears to be a closer contest.

Mr. Sanders welcomed news of the union’s backing.

“Brothers and sisters, let me thank the 700,000 members of the Communications Workers of America for their strong support,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “For decades you’ve been fighting for the rights of working families and I’m so proud today to be with you in that fight.”

Mr. Sanders received another resounding endorsement on Thursday, fromDemocracy for America, showing that he remains the darling of the party’s progressive wing.

Early in the year, Democracy for America and other liberal group tried to recruit Senator Elizabeth Warren into the race. After polling its members this month, Democracy for America overwhelmingly chose to back the Vermont senator.

“Bernie Sanders is an unyielding populist progressive who decisively won Democracy for America members’ first presidential primary endorsement because of his lifelong commitment to taking on income inequality and the wealthy and powerful interests who are responsible for it,” Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America’s executive director, said in a statement.

The support comes at a trying time for Mr. Sanders, who has drawn huge crowds and has impressive fund-raising figures but still lags Mrs. Clinton in polls in Iowa and nationally. While he continues to challenge her in New Hampshire, the party’s establishment has been coalescing around Mrs. Clinton.

Democracy for America said that it will begin organizing on Mr. Sanders’s behalf in crucial primary states, but it nevertheless promised to support whoever is the nominee and to run a positive campaign.

Mr. Sanders was the choice of 89 percent of Democracy for America’s members, compared with 10 percent for Mrs. Clinton and 1 percent for Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland.

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