John Sampson (center) (Source: nysenate.gov)

The list of challengers to State Senator John Samspon’s seat continues to grow. Dell Smitherman has officially announced his candidacy and is building support with labor groups in a race that Crain’s New York Business believes could have “broader implications” for the balance of power in the State Senate.

Sampson has been the subject of several corruption investigations, but he won’t be going to trial until after the elections, leaving him free to run for re-election if he chooses to.

Crain’s reports:

Dell Smitherman is starting to line up major labor support in a race that could have broader implications in the state Senate. He’s landed the early backing of Communications Workers of America District 1, and the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Region 9A, Mr. Smitherman’s campaign said Monday.

In the meantime, Mr. Sampson, a Democrat who once led the state Senate, has been kicked out of the main Senate Democratic conference, which could have implications in a chamber where Republicans maintain a narrow majority in collaboration with five Democrats. The race in the Canarsie-based district is also symbolically important for Senate Democrats, who are trying to clean up their image after a number of members encountered legal troubles.

Sampson’s 19th District also covers a large part of Sheepshead Bay, and a challenger named Sean Henry announced his candidacy earlier this year.

While Henry announced the backing of 300 voters in the district last month, Smitherman’s labor friends may have a little more political clout.

Crain’s writes:

In a statement, Chris Shelton, vice president of CWA District 1, said Mr. Smitherman was a “committed, tireless and successful advocate for working people” and the union would do whatever it could to ensure his election. And Julie Kushner, President of UAW Region 9A, said she hoped Mr. Smitherman would bring “new energy” to the state Senate.

Another possible candidate who hasn’t officially announced that he will be running is Samuel Pierre, who heads a nonprofit and is a former staffer of Sampson’s.

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