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Kerry Earns Labor-Friendly Pascrell’s Endorsement

Picking up his 18th Congressional endorsement, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Tuesday won the backing of Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat with strong connections to organized labor in his state.

New Jersey holds one of the latest primaries in the nation, so the endorsement will not be significant in terms of votes, but Kerry — a supporter of the most recent free-trade deals — clearly hopes Pascrell’s backing will earn him support among labor leaders, a majority of whom have so far backed Rep. Richard Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) presidential bid.

Kerry and Pascrell were scheduled to do a 3:15 p.m. conference call announcing the endorsement.

Gephardt has 31 endorsements from Members of Congress, tops among the Democratic candidates, and Kerry is second with 18. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Ct.) is third with 13, and retired Gen. Wesley Clark has 12 Congressional endorsements.

Pascrell marks the 102nd endorsement from Congress out of the 255 available (counting Vermont’s two Independents, Sen. Jim Jeffords and Rep. Bernie Sanders, in the Democratic column).

However, with Sen. Bob Graham’s withdrawal from the race on Monday night’s “Larry King Live,” the Florida Democrat’s seven endorsements are now up for grabs. All seven Members who backed Graham for president came from the Sunshine State’s delegation.

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