State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) has been finding endorsements hard to come by in his battle to hold his 14th District seat.
But last week he landed a big one, securing the backing of District Council 37.
DC 37, the largest public employee union in the city, represents people doing clerical, maintenance and technical work in schools, healthcare facilities and public venues including parks, bridges and the subways.
Smith, who is being challenged by former Councilman and Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie and Queens Village attorney Munir Avery, was among 24 candidates for the state Senate and Assembly who received the union’s endorsement for this year’s democratic primaries on Sept. 9.
“We firmly believe that these candidates are committed to representing the interests of hard-working public employees who help make this city run and the labor unions that represent them throughout our city and state,” Lillian Roberts, DC 37’s executive director, said in a statement issued last week.
Others receiving the union’s nod included state Sens. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park) and Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing).
So too did former Comptroller John Liu, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in the 11th District.
Avella and Liu have been able to tout high-profile endorsements, but DC 37 appears to be a first for Smith, who has no endorsements listed on his campaign website.
Comrie, on the other hand, boasts the backing of more than 20 unions, the Queens Democratic and Working Families parties, and more 20 elected Democrats at the city, state and federal levels.
Avery’s website counts the support of Unite Here! Local 100, which represents food service and restaurant workers; and the Alliance of South Asian American Labor.
ASAAL also is endorsing Liu and S.J. Jung, who is challenging Stavisky.
DC 37 apparently was not put off by Smith’s pending retrial on federal corruption charges in January, or his switch in 2012 to the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, which effectively handed control of the Senate to the Republican party for the last two years.
DC 37 also endorsed Jeff Klein (D-Bronx, Westchester), the IDC leader, who also is facing a primary.
Avella, who is opposed by Liu, is the newest member of the IDC, having joined this past spring.
The union also endorsed incumbent Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn). Like Smith, Sampson is under federal indictment, awaiting trial on charges connected with the alleged theft of money from the proceeds of real estate foreclosures that he supervised as a court-appointed referee.
Sampson also was recorded by the FBI in 2012 in conversations at the home of former Queens State Sen. Shirley Huntley in the months before Huntley went to federal prison.
So too was state Sen. Ruth Hassel-Thompson (D-Bronx), also endorsed by DC 37. Hassel-Thompson has not been accused of any wrong-doing.
Another controversial candidate endorsed by DC 37 is former Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn.
He is running for the 60th Assembly District seat last held by his wife, now-Councilwoman Inez Barron.
Inez Barron last year vacated the office to run for Charles Barron’s term-limited seat on the Council.