He may not have the support of Summit County’s Democratic elite, but former Gov. Ted Strickland picked up endorsements from thousands of the workers in one of northeast Ohio’s largest labor groups.



The Tri County Regional Labor Council, a branch of the AFL-CIO representing workers in Portage, Medina and Summit counties, is backing Strickland in his bid to become the next U.S. Senator from Ohio. The former congressman already has received the support of major state unions, including the Ohio Education Association and the United Auto Workers, as well as national and state Democratic notables, from President Bill Clinton, Sens. Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren to the Ohio Democratic Party.



Last week, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, Summit County Executive Russ Pry, County Council President Ilene Shapiro, state Sen. Tom Sawyer and state Rep. Emilia Sykes all came out in support of PG Sittenfeld, a 31-year-old Ivy League graduate and second-term councilman from Cincinnati.



Sittenfeld is running against Strickland, 74, in the March primary. The winner of that contest will face incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman.



The Thursday endorsement brought another 48,000 organized workers to Strickland’s cause.



"Former Governor Strickland has and always will be a champion for Ohioans who work for a living. We need him in the U.S. Senate fighting for us," said David E. Prentice, executive secretary treasurer of the Tri County Regional Labor Council."Ted gets it: he understands the struggles facing working families because that's where he comes from and those are the people he cares about. That's a big difference with the present Senator Rob Portman.”



“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the Tri County Labor Council and to have earned the support of working people across Northern Ohio,”Strickland said.“Whether the issue is better wages, opposing bad trade deals that send our jobs to places like China, protecting retirement security for seniors or making college more affordable for students, I will never stop fighting for the interests of our working families — that’s where I’m from and those are the people I will stand up for in the U.S. Senate.”