The state's leading teachers union is backing U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei over Republican challenger John Katko in the 24th Congressional District race. 

New York State United Teachers unveiled its list of endorsements Thursday. The labor union is supporting a several Democrats, including Maffei, D-Syracuse, and a few Republicans in congressional races throughout the state. 

In announcing the endorsement, NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said Maffei has "long been a friend to public education and labor." 

"(Maffei) has worked relentlessly to protect and enhance our schools, improve access to affordable higher education and health care for all New Yorkers and he has been a strong advocate for the working families throughout his district and across New York state," Pallotta said. "NYSUT is proud to support his candidacy." 

NYSUT has supported Maffei in his previous congressional campaigns. In 2012, the union endorsed Maffei over then-U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, and Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum. Maffei defeated Buerkle and Rozum in the 2012 election. 

As he seeks re-election in the 24th Congressional District race, Maffei said he's pleased to again have NYSUT's backing. 

"As a proud graduate of Syracuse public schools, I am committed to improving education, supporting our teachers and strengthening the middle class in central New York," Maffei said in a statement. "I am honored to receive this endorsement from NYSUT, and appreciate their support for my work on behalf of educators and students in New York's 24th District. 

"Education is the foundation of a strong middle class, and I will continue to work to ensure that our kids have the best opportunities to grow and compete in the 21st century economy." 

In other key congressional races, NYSUT backed U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat running for re-election in the 18th Congressional District, and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican seeking another term in the 19th Congressional District. 

The union also sided with two Democrats in competitive upstate races — Aaron Woolf in the 21st Congressional District and Martha Robertson in the 23rd Congressional District. 

Along with the congressional endorsements, NYSUT also unveiled its endorsements in statewide and state legislative races. While the labor group backed state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, they decided not to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino or any of the minor party candidates for governor. 

It's the second straight statewide election that NYSUT has opted not to endorse Cuomo or any other candidate for governor. 

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