The state's third largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, on Saturday decided to endorse state Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) in the Democratic primary for secretary of state.

Fagan only officially entered the race on Feb. 27.

WW has reported that public employee unions were looking for a new candidate after their ally, former House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), quit the race Feb. 10 after WW reported on her unusual use of campaign funds.

Securing a public employee union endorsement two days later supports the premise that labor groups recruited Fagan.

Although they don't always work in lock-step, AFSCME's blessing is an indication that the other large public employee unions, the Oregon Education Association and Service Employees International Union, are likely to support Fagan.

Given the money and people-power the unions can bring to bear on elections, it is also a blow to the candidates who entered the race much earlier than Fagan: state Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), elected school board member Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Cameron Smith, the former director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

"Sen. Fagan has shown time and time again, from her time in the legislature and as a civil rights attorney, that she'll never stop fighting for all of Oregon," Elizabeth Goetzinger, an Oregon AFSCME Executive Board Member from Local 3580 (Metro) said in a statement.