The 15,000-member Correction Officers' Benevolent Association is set to endorse City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat in their respective bids for Congress, the Daily Politics has learned.
COBA President Norman Seabrook will formally announce the union's backing of the two Democrats -- Crowley in NY-6 and Espaillat in NY-13 -- Friday morning during his radio show, "Real Talk, Real Time," on WWRL 1600 AM.
The nods represent COBA's first major endorsements of the cycle.
"We believe she has her finger on the pulse. She has the integrity, experience and passion to bring leadership to the Sixth Congressional District," Seabrook said of Crowley.
COBA spokesman Michael Skelly elaborated, saying Crowley "has proven to be an unyielding supporter of correction officers in their role of maintaining public safety in New York City," adding that as head of the Council's Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, the union feels she's also fought for additional staffing to bolster officer safety.
The corrections officers join the NYPD Captains Endowment Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association in supporting Crowley in a primary contest that's proven a real scramble for labor support (more on that shortly).
As for Espaillat, who's competing in a crowded primary to unseat incumbent longtime Rep. Charlie Rangel, "We respect the fact that he was one of the few senators who had the courage to vote against [the Tier VI pension reform plan]. He's demonstrated commitment, as well, to middle-class, working New Yorkers, and we strongly believe he will bring a fresh voice to the constituents of the district."
So is COBA voting for Espaillat or against Rangel? "It's not about the past; it's really about the future," said a diplomatic Skelly. "It's about who's going to fight the hard fight for the people in that district, [and] we believe Sen. Espaillat is that leader."
Team Espaillat's Ibrahim Khan told me, "We're thrilled to have the support of President Norman Seabrook and men and women from labor whom Sen. Espaillat has supported throughout his career. Our campaign will continue to aggressively engage voters about Sen. Espaillat's message of bringing bold, new ideas to Congress and moving New York forward."
COBA, which runs the largest municipal jail system in the United States, was the first union outside Illinois to endorse Barack Obama for president (in September 2007) and the first NYC union to back Michael Bloomberg for mayor in 2001, Skelly noted.
"Real Talk, Real Time" airs from 11 a.m. to noon. Find links to listen live here or here.