The Williams and Hochul endorsement race for governor has begun. Credit: Bill Moore/Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul and party challenger, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, began the new year with endorsements from labor unions and progressive groups.

The Retail, Wholesale and Development Store Union (RWDSU) endorsed Kathy Hochul for New York State governor. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum stated that Hochul’s proven, during her short time in office, that she’s more than capable of keeping her job.

“Upon taking office in late August, Governor Hochul acted swiftly to implement profound safety protections for our members under the NY Hero Act,” said Appelbaum. “She has a proven track record as a strong and smart leader with a steady hand. She has taken on the unemployment crisis many of our members face and created funds to help our members in the tourism industry, which include our members who work in airline catering. She has looked to support workers seeking to unionize in both new and emerging industries like adult-use cannabis and historically excluded farmworkers.”

Hochul said that she was “humbled” by the union’s endorsement.

“The RWDSU has been a strong advocate for the needs and rights of its members. RWDSU members provide critical services to us as we continue to weather the pandemic, from retail, grocery and pharmacy workers, to health aids and social workers at non-profits and in nursing homes, to food processing workers that produce the food on our dinner tables—they are there,” stated Hochul. “New York is at its best when organized labor has a seat at the table and when we ensure our workers are treated fairly and with dignity and respect.”

Not to be outdone, Williams was endorsed by Progressive Coalition of NYC Council Members who perceive Williams to be a true liberal compared to the “moderate” Hochul. Coalition member New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán said she was honored to endorse Williams.

“In his years in public service, Jumaane has been a leader on public safety, environmental justice, and education equity, authoring legislation to curb stop-and-frisk and create more police oversight, fighting for safe schools and workplaces during the COVID pandemic, investing in cure violence programs to combat gun violence, and demanding public power for New York City,” stated Cabán.

Williams has publicly declared his stance in favor of policies addressing climate science, COVID vaccines and outside intervention in monitoring Rikers’ Island. Williams has also been arrested in Albany at protests for rent regulation and outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan at protests against then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

New York City Council Member Julie Won said that Williams’ continued activism in the streets during protests against police brutality won her support and the support of other progressives. “His deep community ties and passionate activism have always informed his plan to keep New York safe,” stated Won. “Jumaane has stood on the frontlines and responded to incidents with us in my district. If elected as governor, Jumaane’s policies would not only curb violence, but tackle it head on—by prioritizing a holistic approach to keeping every New Yorker safe.”

Williams was happy to receive an endorsement from a group of progressive politicians.

“This group of leaders from across the city demonstrate the power of our grassroots campaign and our vision to renew and recover New York in a way that’s different from the status quo, because for too long the way things have functioned in Albany haven’t helped a majority of folks in this state,” said Williams. “I’m proud that they trust me to fight for them as New York’s next governor.”

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