ALBANY New York's powerful teachers' union will sit out of this year's governor's race, announcing Thursday that it won't endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his liberal primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout, or any of the other contenders.
Despite a fierce debate about how to endorse in the race, members of New York State United Teachers organization decided its best move was not to back any candidate, according to Andrew Pallotta, union executive vice president. He said hundreds of members participated in three days of meetings this week to discuss the union's endorsements.
"Everybody has an opinion, and believe me, everybody stated it," he told The Associated Press. "It was a lively discussion. ... The members were on different sides of that race."
The union, which didn't make an endorsement in the 2010 race either, has sparred with Cuomo over teacher evaluations, the Common Core standards and his support for charter schools. The decision not to make an endorsement shows the challenges Cuomo continues to face with some in his party's base — even though polls show him with a commanding lead in the race.
Cuomo won the endorsement of the Working Families Party this spring only after a debate by members of the party, a coalition of organized labor and liberal activists. Teachout, a Fordham University law professor, launched her primary challenge to Cuomo after losing the Working Families Party's nod.
Teachout and Green Party hopeful Howie Hawkins hold positions more in line with the union, but they're far behind Cuomo in name recognition and fundraising. Republican Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, is also running in the race.
The union's decision extended to the lieutenant governor's race.
Cuomo's campaign declined to comment on the union's decision.
The union did endorse the re-election of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, both Democrats.