Bernie Sanders

Photo via Michael Vadon (CC-BY-SA)

Will this help Sanders maintain his momentum?

It's a big day for Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate received two major endorsements that could help him maintain his momentum ahead of New York's crucial primary.

First, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) broke from the pack of lawmakers supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by endorsing Sanders in New York Times editorial.

Merkley, who praised the American opportunities afforded to his parents' generation, argued that Sanders's focus on income inequality reflected his understanding that the American dream had faded for millions of people.

“It is not that America is less wealthy than 40 years ago—quite the contrary,” Merkley wrote. “The problem is that our economy, both by accident and design, has become rigged to make a fortunate few very well off while leaving most Americans struggling to keep up.”

Merkley argued that Americans needed “urgency” and “big ideas” from their country's leadership, which he believed Sanders offered more so than Clinton, who he said had a “remarkable record” but fell short of Sanders's commitment to “boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country.”

Merkley is the first sitting senator to endorse Sanders, who has also received endorsements from eight current members of the House, two former senators, and two former congressmen.

Clinton, herself a former senator from New York, touts endorsements from 40 sitting senators, including Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 

Also on Wednesday, Sanders received an endorsement from the New York transit workers union, which represents tens of thousands of current and former transit workers across the state. 

"Brothers and sisters,there is no doubt that America needs a jolt, New York a jolt, working families need a jolt and business as usual politics are not going to give us the jolt that we need," John Samuelsen, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, said at a Brooklyn event announcing the endorsement.

Sanders, who was present for the announcement, thanked the union for its support and called organized labor the “last lines of defense against a vicious corporate agenda that is working hard to destroy the middle class.”

New Yorkers of both parties will cast their votes in primaries on Monday, April 18.

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