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NY1 Exclusive: De Blasio Readies Pre-K Push In Albany

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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is ramping up his push for free pre-kindergarten classes for New York City children. This, while he and other candidates for mayor are trumpeting new endorsements in the campaign. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Bill de Blasio has a plan to create free pre-kindergarten classes for all four-year-olds in the city. He is proposing to tax some of the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay for it. But first, he needs Albany lawmakers to sign off on the plan.

"We have a huge constituency that wants this - is ready to fight for it. I think it's an idea whose time has come," De Blasio said.

De Blasio met with community leaders and education advocates behind closed doors to begin ramping up the public outreach effort that will likely be needed to get the legislation passed in the state capitol. The bill has a sponsor in the Assembly. De Blasio says it should be introduced in the senate in the next few days.

"When we pull this off we will be able to look back and say that was one of the turning point moments in terms of making our school system work for all our kids," De Blasio said.

But it's not just policy fights de Blasio is focusing on. There are political ones as well. And in his fight to become the city's next mayor, he picked up a key endorsement: The backing of Local 1199 SEIU.

"It was a unanimous vote," said Local 1199 SEIU President George Gresham.

The local health care workers union is the largest in the city. And it is known for its formidable get-out-the-vote operation. It could also spend unlimited amounts of its own money to boost de Blasio - so long as it does not coordinate with his campaign.

"We are willing to do whatever is necessary and proper to make bill De Blasio the next mayor of the city of New York," Gresham said.

Another candidate, meanwhile, is picking up some important support. The Queens Democratic Party is throwing its weight behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, passing over City Comptroller John Liu - a Queens Democrat who is also making a run for City Hall.

But Liu is set to get his own high-profile endorsement Tuesday. The local chapter of the Communication Workers of America will announce its support for his campaign.

The union has already made a mark on the race, helping to bankroll attack ads against Quinn.

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