By Ginger Gibson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders gained the support on Sunday of a large and influential labor union in New Hampshire, an important early-voting state Democratic presidential nomination contest.
The union, SEA/SEIU Local 1984, has more than 10,000 members in New Hampshire, including both public and private sector employees. It has frequently used its political organization to help propel candidates to victory in the state.
"For decades, Senator Sanders has represented the interests of workers all across this country, and during these past few months, he has taken the time to support SEA/SEIU Local 1984 specifically," Rich Gulla, president of the union, said in a statement.
New Hampshire will hold the second primary contest in February and victory in the state has historically helped fuel candidate momentum.
Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont in the U.S. Senate, was an early favorite to win the New Hampshire primary. But polls continue to show him in a tight race with rivals U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Warren represents Massachusetts, also a New Hampshire neighbor.
The sane union backed Sanders in 2016 when he ran against Hillary Clinton and was credited with helping him secure victory in the state's primary. Ultimately, however, Sanders' strong showing in New Hampshire and Iowa, which holds the first primary, were not enough to push him past Clinton, who won the nomination.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by David Gregorio)