Perhaps the long-standing relationship between the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, and a particular contender for the role of president of the U.S., Hillary Clinton, had something to do with that union’s official endorsement of Clinton for the White House.

Or perhaps the organization is hedging its bets by backing the Democratic candidate who is repeatedly and fatalistically referred to as the one who’s got the nomination sewn up — Bernie Sanders rallies notwithstanding.

Whatever the reason, the AFT made it official this weekend (per The New York Times):

A major teachers’ union on Saturday voted to make an early endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton, a lift to her presidential campaign as she tries to fend off a stronger-than-expected challenge from the left.

The endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers was not a surprise. The group is led by Randi Weingarten, a longtime ally of Mrs. Clinton, and it backed her in her losing primary battle against Barack Obama in 2008.

But the union is giving her its support again at an opportune moment for Mrs. Clinton, just before her first major speech on the economy, scheduled for Monday, which is seen as an attempt, in part, to neutralize the criticism leveled at her by her leading challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Sanders has surged in the polls by appealing to the populist anger of many Democrats over economic issues.

Elsewhere in the press, The Wall Street Journal’s faithfully right-angled opinion page also played Sanders and Clinton off each other in an unsigned editorial published Sunday about the AFT story, with a predictable display of disdain for Sanders and his supporters and an air of foreboding about Clinton’s potential victory:

While the media chase the Bernie Sanders rallies, keep your eye on the political crowds that matter. On Saturday the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed Hillary Clinton—16 months before Election Day.

[…] The endorsement is even more notable as another sign of Hillary’s left political turn. Democrats in New York and elsewhere have been debating education reform, but by embracing the AFT Mrs. Clinton is choosing the union status quo that opposes school choice and teacher accountability.

The New York Times also pointed out that Clinton’s ties to the teachers union extend into her husband’s realm as well, as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, previously held a high-ranking position at the AFT.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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