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Hochul gets nod from powerful hotel workers union in first big endorsement of race

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 12/16/2021 Michael Gartland

The powerful hotel workers union is planning to put its political might behind Gov. Hochul for her re-election bid next year — the first major union endorsement in the governor’s race so far.

The Hotel Trades Council is expected to formally announce its stamp of approval for Hochul on Thursday.

“Kathy Hochul has gotten big things done to help workers struggling from the devastating economic loss caused by COVID. From addressing the unemployment crisis to making sure New Yorkers finally get the financial assistance they’ve been waiting for, Gov. Hochul has shown she is up for the challenge and ready to fight for working New Yorkers,” the union’s president Rich Maroko told the Daily News on Wednesday.

“As the union representing tens of thousands of hotel workers that are the heart of our tourism economy, we are excited to be among the first unions to endorse Gov. Hochul,” he added.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul © Don Pollard New York Gov. Kathy Hochul

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (Don Pollard/)

So far, the only other union endorsement Hochul has picked up has come from the Buffalo and Niagara Building Trades Council, but it’s still early. The Democratic primary for governor isn’t until next June, which gives Hochul, who already holds a healthy lead in recent polls, plenty of time to build more backing among labor unions.

The Hotel Trades Council’s endorsement is an early sign that Hochul, who hails from Buffalo, is picking up steam in the voter-rich five boroughs, which she will need to do in order to win. The Hotel Trades Council represents about 35,000 members in New York City and an additional 5,000 in northern New Jersey and the rest of New York State.

Rich Maroko, president of the Hotel Trade Council © Provided by New York Daily News Rich Maroko, president of the Hotel Trade Council

Rich Maroko, president of the Hotel Trade Council (Pacific Press/)


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“I am incredibly honored to receive this endorsement from the nearly 40,000 hardworking members of the Hotel Trades Council,” Hochul said in a written statement. “As we build back from the pandemic, my administration will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with union families in the fight to ensure every worker is treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.”

The HTC nod comes just a week after Hochul’s top rival, Attorney General Letitia James, opted to bow out of the gubernatorial contest in favor of running for re-election as an incumbent AG — and will likely serve as a signal to Mayor de Blasio, a long-time ally of the union, that he may face an uphill climb when it comes to attracting labor support if he decides to jump into the race.

HTC is one of the few unions that endorsed de Blasio’s ill-fated presidential run.

De Blasio, who will step as mayor on Dec. 31, has hinted at a gubernatorial run for weeks, but so far has stopped shy of actually announcing he’ll do it.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has announced his own run, but his poll numbers have remained anemic. In a recent Sienna College poll, Williams was projected to win 10% of the vote compared to Hochul’s 36%. The poll, which was released before James announced her departure from the race, projected her as getting 18%.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams © Provided by New York Daily News New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (Seth Wenig/)

De Blasio and Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island) clocked 6% each.

Both de Blasio and Williams, like James, are from Brooklyn, which is the most heavily Democratic county in the state. To win, Hochul will need to do well there, as well as in the rest of the city.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams also hails from Kings County and has appeared with Hochul at multiple events since she became governor after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in August. It’s still unclear though whether or not he will formally endorse her.

In making its decision to back Hochul, HTC factored in one key policy stance above all others, according to a source from the union.

In November, she announced a $450 million recovery package aimed at the tourism industry. That policy will translate into $100 million in payments to unemployed hospitality industry workers, $100 million in incentives to employers to rehire laid-off tourism workers and $25 million in grants to help convention centers attract events to their spaces.

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