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Instead of backing a mayoral hopeful, Mulgrew assists them all

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said today that he hasn’t picked a candidate for mayor to endorse. But he has decided that he will lend a hand to all four people vying for the Democratic nomination, at least for now.

For political candidates, the UFT’s endorsement is valuable. Landing it means an influx of funds, supporters in every neighborhood in the city, and an army of potential volunteers to fuel the political ground game.

So the four likely candidates for the Democratic nomination for mayor — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, former comptroller Bill Thompson, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio — have been courting the union for some time.

At a panel discussion on education policy last month, each promised to depart from Mayor Bloomberg’s critical tone when talking about teachers. And each showed up to an event last week held by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a coalition formed to oppose Bloomberg’s education policies during the mayoral campaign, to emphasized where their policy positions line up with the union’s.

Today, the union announced that Mulgrew had given all four candidates the right to use his name in their fundraising appeals. When they send out invitations to fundraisers, for example, they can list him as being among the hosts.

The union is unlikely to endorse a single candidate until much closer to the Democratic primary, in September 2013, and whether it will issue an official endorsement even then is not at all assured. The union has not backed a mayoral candidate since 2001, when it endorsed candidates in the primary, runoff, and general election. None of those candidates won.