Joe Biden was endorsed by the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor group and one whose membership is largely composed of college-educated women, a key demographic in the Democratic primary.
The endorsement comes on the eve of the next presidential debate, where Biden will face off against rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, and three days before the next set of states is scheduled to vote. The NEA has pledged to try to boost turnout for Biden in those four states – Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Arizona – where it has nearby 760,000 members.
“Biden is the tireless advocate for public education and is the partner that students and educators need now in the White House,” Lily Eskelsen García, the union’s president, said in a statement. “He understands that as a nation we have a moral responsibility to provide a great neighborhood public school for every student in every ZIP code.”
“With so much at stake in this election, educators are determined to use their voice to propel Joe Biden to the White House,” she added.
The union backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Sanders, and has never endorsed a Republican presidential candidate. Sanders has earned support from rank-and-file members in some unions even while losing among union leadership. In Nevada, for example, the Culinary Workers Union pilloried his health care plan but Sanders ended up winning the state’s caucuses with the support of many of the union members.
The teachers’ union backing adds to the parade of recent endorsements for Biden, and also brings yet another prominent labor group to his corner.
The International Association of Fire Fighters backed him from the start of his campaign, and its yellow-shirted members are a frequent presence on the campaign trail. He has also been supported by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Amalgamated Transit Union, among others.
The nation’s second largest teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, urged its members last month to support either Biden, Sanders, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has since dropped out.
Biden has often touted education as one of the core planks of his agenda, frequently pointing out that his wife, Jill, works as a community college professor. She is also a member of the NEA.
Biden attended all three of the union’s presidential forums, including in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Texas, as well as sat for a video interview.
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