Biddle gets lift from SEIU

The Service Employees International Union is starting to spend the $65,000 it plans to use over the next three weeks to help interim council member Sekou Biddle (D) win a full term on the D.C. Council.

Last month, the SEIU MD/DC State Council endorsed Biddle in the April 26 special election for the at-large seat previously held by D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D).

On Tuesday, 33,000 District voters will start receiving a mailing from SEIU urging them to vote for Biddle. The cover of the flyer features a large color photograph of Biddle next to the words “Independent Leadership.”

“An independent leader who will make city government work for us,” the other side of the flyer states. “Sekou Biddle will stand up to political insiders and cronies. He’ll put our interests first.”

Although SEIU stresses that its “independent expenditure” was not coordinated with the Biddle campaign, the union is using the same buzz words that his campaign uses in its advertisements. In an ad in last week’s Northwest Current, Biddle said that he hasn’t been “hanging around the D.C. government making political deals and lobbying with cronies.” Biddle is trying to distance himself from Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D), who were among his earliest supporters.

In addition to this week’s mailing, SEIU plans to mail another to thousands of union households April 17. SEIU, which has 45,000 members in the Washington region, is also organizing phone banks and canvassing teams to aid Biddle. In all, SEIU plans to spend $65,000 in support of Biddle, a union spokeswoman said.

But organized labor, which was largely unified in support of Gray in last year’s mayoral race, is split in this year’s council race. The members of the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, which claims 150,000 members in the region, voted last week to endorsed Vincent B. Orange.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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