Mayor Bill de Blasio has endorsed state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein for reelection. The announcement came the same day the small, progressive Working Families Party took away its endorsement of Mr. Klein’s challenger, Riverdale’s former Councilman Oliver Koppell. While the developments seriously weaken Mr. Koppell’s run, he said Tuesday he would not back out of the race.
Mr. de Blasio’s endorsement came days after Mr. Klein announced his breakaway group of Democrats would form a coalition with the mainstream Democratic Conference after the November ballot.
News reports previously said Mr. de Blasio had threatened to support candidates running against members of Mr. Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) if the IDC did not end its coalition with senate Republicans.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Mr. Klein credited his work fighting for the mayor’s priorities in Albany for the endorsement.
“As far as the mayor’s politics, I think this becomes the progressive seal of approval,” the senator said. “I work very hard and very close to the mayor. I very quickly became his number one ally in Albany.”
After Mr. de Blasio got into a fight over universal preschool with Gov. Andrew Cuomo shortly after the start of the mayor’s term, Mr. Klein helped allocate $300 million of the state budget for the initiative in the city. The mayor made his first appearance in Riverdale to thank the senator for his efforts. More recently, Mr. Klein, who determined what bills come to the floor of the senate in partnership with Republican Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos, worked to allow the city to lower its speed limit from 30 to 25 mph.
“It’s nice to be validated,” Mr. Klein said of the mayor’s endorsement. “If you look back, I think the mayor had one of the best Albany sessions in memory.”
Mr. de Blasio also endorsed Queens state Sen. Tony Avella, an IDC member who is facing a Democratic primary challenge from former City Comptroller John Liu.