A major state and municipal employees’ union today announced its endorsement of Democrat Dan Malloy for governor, with a union spokesman calling his selection over Ned Lamont a “wrenching choice” for many leaders.

Malloy and Lamont each had been pursuing the backing of the Connecticut State Employees Association, but Malloy’s support of a more progressive income tax helped the union decide, said a spokesman, Matt O’Connor.

The endorsement gives Malloy the union’s backing in trying to turn out voters in nearly 25,000 union households, including 4,500 state employees, 6,500 municipal employees and 13,000 retirees. He previously was endorsed by an affiliated health-care union with 8,700 members.

Lamont has been endorsed by the state’s largest teacher’s union, the Connecticut Education Association.

O’Connor called Malloy “the best of two good candidates.”

“Connecticut’s workers are the backbone of our economy,” Malloy said. “The fact is, recent governors simply haven’t treated them with the respect they deserve – they’ve either ignored or outright disregarded their input and their interests when it comes to creating jobs and getting the state’s economy back on track.”

Lamont has used similar language talking about state employees, who are an important constituency in Democratic primaries.

CSEA is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, which has 55,000 members in Connecticut.

“CSEA members have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elect a governor who will be a true partner,” said the union’s president, Catherine Osten, a lieutenant in the Department of Correction.

The Democratic and Republican primaries for governor are Aug. 10. Connecticut has not elected a Democrat as governor since William A. O’Neill was re-elected in 1986.

Quinnipiac University will release its latest poll in the race tomorrow.

Tonight, the three Republican candidates — Tom Foley, Michael C. Fedel and Oz Griebel — will debate at 7 p.m. in the studio of NBC30, which will broadcast the one-hour forum live. The station previously broadcast a debate of Malloy and Lamont.

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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