By JESSE J. HOLLAND
AP Labor Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The American Federation of Government Employees endorsed Barack Obama Friday, giving the Illinois senator fresh momentum toward capturing the Democratic nomination for president.
"Our people, I think, recognize the enthusiasm and vitality behind Senator Obama's campaign," AFGE President John Gage said.
Gage, a previously uncommitted superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention, said he is also personally endorsing Obama.
Obama, the Democratic front-runner, is vying with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party's presidential nomination. His candidacy has been picking up momentum since Tuesday, when he handily won the North Carolina primary and held Clinton to a narrow victory in Indiana.
While calling Clinton a friend and saying she has worked hard for federal employees, Gage said some members of AFGE's board also think having Obama as the Democratic nominee would help the Democratic slate as a whole. Obama will do better in "bringing along some of the downticket races," Gage said.
AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
Gage also said it's time for Democrats to move beyond the primary and start concentrating on the November contest against certain Republican presidential nominee John McCain. "I think it's time we start really focusing in on McCain, who just has a terrible record when it comes to federal employees," Gage said.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)