NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigned throughout New York City on Wednesday ahead of the state’s influential presidential primary, a pivotal battleground for the Democratic nomination.
The Vermont senator announced the endorsement of his first Senate colleague, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and picked up the support of a local transit workers union, providing him with a small army of workers who could pass out leaflets in subways in the days ahead.
“I believe we’re going to win here in New York City,” Sanders declared alongside the Transit Workers Union Local 100 before joining a picket line with communications union workers striking against Verizon.
Clinton, the former New York senator, was campaigning in the city and addressing the influential organization led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, giving her a visible platform for the city’s black community.
New York City offers by far the largest bloc of votes in next Tuesday’s primary and campaign officials estimate it could account for about 70 percent of the vote. In 2008, when Clinton dueled with then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the state’s primary, more than half of the vote came from the city’s five boroughs.
Polls have shown Clinton with a lead against Sanders, putting pressure on the self-described democratic socialist to overcome the former secretary of state’s edge. Clinton holds a lead of about 250 pledged delegates in the chase for the nomination, an advantage that Sanders is trying to chip away in upcoming primaries in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and beyond.
For now, the competition is a duel of endorsements and rallies. Sanders planned a rally later Wednesday in New York City’s Washington Square Park, while Clinton headlines an event in the Bronx.
Clinton has captured the endorsements of most Senate Democrats but Merkley announced his support of Sanders, telling MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the senator had “been out there leading, clearly long before he decided to run.”
In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Merkley also cited Sanders’ positions on the dangers of global warming, and the “threats to our economy from high-risk strategies at our biggest banks.” He said that Sanders has fought hard for military veterans, and he conceded he has an uphill battle ahead of him to win the Democratic nomination.
AP’s Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
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