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Sen. Jim Seward

State Sen. Jim Seward. 

New York State United Teachers, an influential union representing more than 600,000 members, supported state Sen. Jim Seward in past elections. But the labor group won't back his re-election bid in 2018. 

The union made no endorsement in the 51st Senate District race, according to a list released last week. NYSUT backed 37 state Senate candidates, including Democratic nominee John Mannion in the neighboring 50th Senate District. 

Seward, R-Milford, didn't make the cut. 

The reason for the snub is the state Senate's vote on a bill to decouple standardized state tests from teacher evaluations. NYSUT backed a separate bill that had 55 cosponsors in the Senate, but didn't receive a vote. 

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, pushed his own measure that included some of the same provisions. But it also contained a proposal to increase the state's charter school cap, a concept the union has long opposed. 

The Senate passed Flanagan's bill, S8992, by a 35-25 vote. Seward voted for the legislation. 

NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said the union warned the Senate that the bill "carried serious consequences." 

"Those senators who turned their backs on teachers and public education — and held students and educators hostage in hopes of dealing for more charter schools — are now being held accountable for their vote," Pallotta said in a statement. 

Seward, who received NYSUT's support in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections, has lost its endorsement before. In 2008, he voted for a property tax cap proposal opposed by the labor group. The union suspended its support of Seward and other senators. 

However, online archives indicate that NYSUT reinstated its endorsement of Seward and other senators in October 2008. 

Seward said in a phone interview Friday that he wasn't surprised with non-endorsement in this year's race. He defended his record on education and reiterated his support of addressing over-testing and revamping the teacher evaluation system. 

"With or without the NYSUT endorsement, I think the teachers and the parents and all those associated with education throughout my district know and recognize that I've been fighting for our upstate public schools in terms of state and funding," he said. 

He added, "I think my record on education is very clear and I hope to earn the support of the teachers and all educators through my district." 

Although he didn't receive the union's formal endorsement, he has received its support in other ways. Campaign finance records show NYSUT's action fund has donated $7,060 to Seward's campaign in the 2018 election cycle. 

Seward, who was first elected in 1986, is seeking another two-year term representing the 51st Senate District. The district includes the towns of Locke, Moravia, Niles, Owasco, Sempronius and Summerhill in Cayuga County. 

Democratic candidate Joyce St. George, a Delaware County resident, is Seward's opponent this year. 

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