DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct 15 (Reuters) Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards won endorsements from the Service Employees International Union in 10 states today, including California and the early voting state of Iowa.
After the national union last week refused to endorse any candidate for the primary nominating contests, Democratic hopefuls targeted the union's state councils for their support as they try to capture their party's nomination.
''I have proudly stood with them on the front lines of the fight for working Americans for years, and I am honored to earn their support today,'' Edwards said in a statement about the endorsement from Iowa workers.
SEIU state councils in nine other states including California, Michigan and Washington were set to announce their support for Edwards later today, a Democratic source said.
Edwards has trailed rivals Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois in national polls but has kept the race closer in Iowa. A recent Des Moines Register poll put Clinton at 29 per cent, Edwards at 23 per cent and Obama at 22 per cent.
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who led the Iowa field in May, could benefit from the potential grass-roots muscle of almost 1 million SEIU workers in the 10 states.
However, he wasn't alone in gaining SEIU support. Obama announced he had the endorsements from two SEIU state councils, his home state of Illinois and neighboring Indiana, which represented 170,000 workers.
The SEIU represents health care professionals, maintenance workers and public services employees.
REUTERS CS BST0152