The SEIU endorsement was considered especially important for former Sen. John Edwards’ campaign.
(CNN) – A highly sought-after national union endorsement will go unclaimed in the Democratic presidential race, as the Service Employees International Union decided Monday not to back any national candidate. Instead, the SEIU will allow local unions to make their own presidential endorsements.
The national union had delayed an endorsement last month, underscoring a split among members over the top candidates who had aggressively courted the union’s support. But after taking the extra time, SEIU President Andy Stern said in a statement “Given the importance of this election, we are encouraging members and leaders to act on their passion for the candidates and get involved on a statewide basis.”
The endorsement had been considered especially important for former Sen. John Edwards’ campaign. Edwards had blasted leading rivals for taking lobbyist and corporate money, and, seeking the SEIU backing, was the first candidate to participate in the union’s walk in the shoes program.
The Edwards campaign denied the decision not to endorse was a blow to their effort.
“Despite aggressive efforts by the other campaigns to stop any endorsement by SEIU, we are very pleased by the fact that we will gain endorsement of SEIU locals from across America,” Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz said. “It is a victory for the campaign as we now can mobilize the support from SEIU members who enthusiastically support John Edwards’ bold plans for real change in America. Lacking any home-state advantage, Edwards earned majority support, and now hundreds of thousands of SEIU members supporting Edwards will have an effective outlet in the early states and through the nomination process.”
A senior aide to one of Edwards’ rivals sharply disagreed and suggested it will hurt the North Carolina Democrat’s chances of winning the nomination.
“His supporters worked hard to try and get it for him, but they were not able to get him over the top,” said the advisor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk