- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Democrat Gina Raimondo has won the backing of two Rhode Island labor leaders who had been hesitant to offer support and whose organizations haven’t endorsed a candidate in the governor’s race.

State AFL-CIO President George Nee personally endorsed the treasurer Wednesday during a telephone town hall organized by her campaign. He called her “pro-middle class” and “pro-worker.” His organization initially deferred an endorsement of Raimondo and hasn’t been able to get enough support from its member groups to make one.

Meanwhile, Robert Walsh, executive director of National Education Association Rhode Island, is telling members he believes Raimondo would be preferable to Republican nominee Allan Fung or Moderate Party candidate Robert Healey, the Providence Journal reported Wednesday.

In a column sent to members, he said NEARI’s non-endorsement in the race is “respectful of the great anger” that many feel over Raimondo’s 2011 overhaul of the state’s public pension system. Public-sector unions and retirees are suing over the changes.

“I’ll understand if you do not reach the same conclusion, but ask that you not manifest that anger by voting for Mayor Fung,” he wrote of his support for Raimondo.

NEARI endorsed Clay Pell in September’s Democratic primary, and Raimondo has been courting labor leaders since her victory.

Fung is scheduled to welcome Mitt Romney to Providence on Thursday. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee is holding a fundraiser for him.

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