DC 37 Denies Quinn Endorsement

As first reported in The Chief-Leader, DC 37, one of the most powerful city unions, has denied what normally would have been an automatic endorsement to Christine Quinn for re-election. This is a highly unusual move for a so-called progressive Democratic candidate, especially one is such a powerful position.

City Hall News has more on the story after the jump:

DC 37 Continues Sniping at Quinn After Denying Endorsement
City Hall News
by Andrew J. Hawkins

Earlier this year, Council Speaker Christine Quinn led her colleagues in a rare vote to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of a bill that would loosen residency restrictions for members of District Council 37, the city’s biggest municipal labor union.

Six months later, DC 37 thanked Quinn by making her one of the few incumbents denied an endorsement for the primaries.

Behind DC 37’s decision to skip the endorsement -- a decision reached after coming close to endorsing Quinn challenger Yetta Kurland -- is a story full of sniping and hard feelings.

Quinn was scheduled to appear for an interview before the union’s 29-member executive committee on July 7, but called abruptly the night before to cancel the meeting, a union source said. The speaker also failed to fill out the union’s five-question endorsement survey.

But a person close to Quinn refutes that claim, saying the union only called to schedule the interview the week before and never replied to her request to reschedule.

In Quinn’s absence, the executive committee came within just several votes of endorsing Kurland, a civil rights attorney.

“There was a love-fest there,” the union source said of Kurland’s interview with DC 37’s executive committee.

Kurland said she would have liked to have had the support of DC 37, but noted the decision not to endorse could still benefit her campaign.

“For them not to endorse the incumbent is a huge, huge statement,” Kurland said.

The union represents almost 200,000 city workers, mostly in non-uniformed jobs, and includes social workers, secretaries, architects, engineers, accountants and employees in scores of other positions.

The union is one the political powerhouses in the city, and often provides ground troops and donations to favored candidates.

Despite having Quinn go to bat for its members on the residency issue, the union has been displeased with her for some time. Her perceived closeness to Bloomberg and her methods in corralling votes in the Council has estranged her from the union. (Notably, though, DC 37 backed Bloomberg’s 2005 re-election and is expected to endorse him again this year.)

The source close to Quinn acknowledged that situation, adding that DC 37 was miffed that Quinn would not send a home rule message to the State Legislature urging passage of pension sweeteners favored by the union.

Quinn’s problems with DC 37 do not seem to extend to the city’s other large unions. She still appears to be in the good graces of the United Federation of Teachers and 1199.

Nor is Quinn the only incumbent to run afoul of the union. DC 37 also declined to endorse incumbent Council members Eric Ulrich, Alan Gerson, Dan Garodnick, Maria Baez, James Sanders, Al Vann, Kendall Stewart and Kenneth Mitchell.