Sanders Hot With Nurses; Earns Endorsement From Largest Union In Country

Bernie Sanders has earned the endorsement of the nation's largest union of registered nurses, which will announce their decision at a California event on Friday, according to Bloomberg.

The 150,000-member union cites his support for Medicare for All, veterans health care and in boosting the labor movement. The union endorsed Sanders in his 2016 Democratic primary bid against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, and the early endorsement in the 2020 race is a win for him amid a crowded field that includes fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren.

"For nurses, our solidarity is a matter of life or death for our patients," said union president Jean Ross. "We need a president who makes it easier for us to stand together and hold our employers accountable for putting people above profits."

Sanders will attend the Friday announcement in Oakland as part of a series of California campaign stops that include Fresno, Long Beach and East Los Angeles.

The 78-year-old Sanders was the only 2020 Democratic candidate to actually sit for an in-person interview with the union, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts called in via video chat and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind. sent them a three-minute video.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris blew the union off.

As the New York Times notes, the union endorsement also comes with a giant purse:

The endorsement also brings Mr. Sanders the support of the union’s super PAC, a thorny issue given that Mr. Sanders, like most of the Democrats seeking the party’s 2020 nomination, has disavowed support from super PACs.

In 2016 the union’s super PAC spent $5 million backing Mr. Sanders in the primary contest against Hillary Clinton, a relative pittance in the world of super PACs (the one supporting Jeb Bush blew through $87 million). Still, it spent more money backing Mr. Sanders than was spent by any other super PAC on behalf of Mrs. Clinton or other Democrats in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses.

According to the union's executive director Bonnie Castillo, the super PAC "will be activated" for Sanders, and vowed not to attack other 2020 candidates.

"We're not going negative," said Castillo. "We are a very positive force. It’s a reflection of who we are as a profession. We are healers."

Sanders, responding to the decision, said "What the nurses understand is that the current health care system is not only dysfunctional but extraordinarily cruel."

"Together we are finally going to do what should have been done decades ago and make sure that every man, woman and child in this country has quality health care as a human right."