For a second time, Assemblywoman Pamela Harris has won the endorsements of the Working Families Party (WFP) and 1199 United Healthcare Workers East (1199SEIU) — one of the largest healthcare union in the nation — this time in her bid for re-election.
The WFP says it endorses candidates, like Harris, who advocate on behalf of hardworking New Yorkers and help ensure fair representation for all — not just the wealthy and well-connected.
“The Working Families Party fights for the interests of hardworking families each and every day,” said Harris. “I’m honored to receive their endorsement and look forward to working together to build a brighter future for Brooklyn communities.”
Harris cited her successful efforts to fight for an increased minimum wage and to establish paid family leave — two top issues for the WFP. As a former correction officer and lifelong resident of Coney Island, Harris has also committed herself to developing more opportunities within the community.
The healthcare workers’ endorsement was based on Harris’ strong efforts to ensure that quality health care is accessible to all and to promote affordable housing and combat illegal home conversions in Brooklyn and across the city.
“Pamela Harris has already proven she is a champion of our 1199SEIU Action Platform, that she is a strong advocate for all working families and that she appreciates how cultural diversity strengthens community,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “We look forward to continuing our work for good jobs and quality care with Assemblywoman Harris and know that the voices of healthcare workers and our families will be heard in the NYS Assembly when she is re-elected.”
The endorsements represent a small victory for Harris, who is being challenged for 46th Assembly District seat by Kate Cucco, a Bay Ridge community activist and former chief of staff to Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who held the position before. Harris won the spot in a special election last year, following Brook-Krasny’s resignation to work in private sector.
The freshman assemblywoman faced criticism last week for having too cozy a relationship with the non-profit she founded, Coney Island Generation Gap (CIGG) — which gives Brooklyn’s disadvantaged youth the tools and resources to succeed — while holding public office.
The two women will face off in the primary on September 13, and the winner will represent the Democratic Party in November’s general election. The GOP candidate will likely be lawyer Mikhail Usher, who has received the endorsement of the Brooklyn Conservative Party.
Harris acknowledged the healthcare union’s endorsement in a statement Monday.
“As a lifelong resident of Coney Island, I’m committed to creating more opportunities that help local families succeed, including ensuring good jobs with secure benefits to the hardworking families who call Brooklyn home,” said the assemblywoman. “I look forward to working with 1199SEIU members, who have always been deeply connected to their communities, to ensure good jobs for our economy, safe neighborhoods and the highest standards of care at our hospitals, nursing homes and for the frail and elderly in their homes.”
Harris — who represents the multi-cultural and multi-lingual communities of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Seagate, Coney Island, and Gravesend — also supports immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship; she is the sponsor of a bill that would bring Russian speaking interpreters to polling places during elections to ensure no voices are left out of the voting process because of language barriers.
Update [3:23pm]: A member of WFP’s New York City chapter, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that on a local level, party members voted overwhelmingly to endorse Cucco over Harris, but that the party’s executive committee overruled the decision.
“The big issue was their stance on public vs. charter schools — Kate’s answers were more in line with what the party was looking for,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the Brooklyn Conservative Party-endorsed candidate, which is Mikhael Usher.