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In the weeks that a former campaign volunteer accused Scott M. Stringer of sexual misconduct, many of the Democratic candidate’s key supporters, including the Working Families Party and a phalanx of progressive politicians, abandoned his campaign.
But powerful teachers’ unions are not only holding on to Mr. Stringer, the city administrator, but are also offering a much-needed boost for his contested campaign in the form of a multi-million dollar advertising flash from Tuesday.
The American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second largest teachers union, and the United Federation of Teachers, their large and influential chapter in New York City, are the primary sponsors of the $ 4 million television and digital advertising effort. The ads and mailers are paid for by NY 4 Kids, a super PAC that, according to the group, was created to “keep the issues affecting our schools, children and teachers at the center of these polls”.
The AFT has contributed $ 1 million to date, and the PAC has commitments for the remaining $ 3 million. The efforts of the PAC, funded primarily by the unions, will more than triple the Stringer campaign’s own ad spending, which so far has totaled approximately $ 1.3 million.
The unions form an essential part of the coalition, which is working with Mr Stringer before the democratic primary in June. However, your continued support for the candidate represents a very risky political bet, especially for the UFT, which has not supported a victorious mayoral candidate since 1989.
The union has significant power over major educational decisions, but its influence on the city’s electoral policy could be severely weakened if it again backed the wrong candidate.
That didn’t stop Randi Weingarten, president of AFT and one of the most powerful union leaders in the country, from defending Mr. Stringer. On Sunday, she stood with candidate and representative Jerrold Nadler on Mr. Stringer’s home lawn, the Upper West Side, to praise his record as a long-time local politician.
“I am very proud of this confirmation because Scott did and what he will do,” said Ms. Weingarten, former president of UFT. “I think he’ll be a great mayor.”
“Am I concerned about the allegations? Of course, “she said, adding,” I am also a trade unionist who has dealt with false allegations. “
Tyrone Stevens, a spokesperson for Mr Stringer, said the campaign is “thrilled with the continued support of champions for public education because they know the next mayor must be ready on day one to invest in our children and ours Bringing schools back stronger than ever. “
Some parents and mayoral candidates have accused the union of slowing the pace of school openings in New York over the past year. With the majority of families still choosing to learn remotely, there is no evidence of any significant public backlash against the union.
Other major unions have backed Mr. Stringer’s rivals, and several stand behind Eric Adams, Brooklyn District President. But the UFT backed Mr. Stringer, a long-time ally of the union, last month. When asked whether his 200,000-strong union would support the Democratic candidate, UFT President Michael Mulgrew replied that Mr Stringer would indeed be the candidate.
That was a cheeky, confident projection even back then when limited public polls showed Mr. Stringer consistently finished third or fourth in the race. But just a week after UFT endorsement, Jean Kim, a political lobbyist who worked on a campaign for Mr Stringer in 2001, said the candidate groped her several times during that race. Mr. Stringer has vehemently denied the allegations, stating that he and Ms. Kim had a brief, friendly relationship.
Mr Stringer has fought for the left flank of the city’s electorate against Maya Wiley, a former lawyer for Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit leader, both of whom have received support and energy from progressive groups in the city, according to the Allegations by Ms. Kim.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Mr Mulgrew said his union still partially supports Mr Stringer because the allegations have not been proven.
“One reason unions were formed is because people are being treated unfairly,” Mulgrew said. “There are always many allegations in our work.”
Jeffery C. Mays contributed to the coverage.