Former legislator Jo Ann Hardesty has won a key endorsement in her November general election battle against Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith.

The two are facing off for the Portland City Council seat being vacated by City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who is retiring.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 189 gave the nod to Hardesty, The Oregonian reported today.

In the primary, AFSCME endorsed Andrea Valderrama, a David Douglas School Board member and aide to Mayor Ted Wheeler, who finished a distant fourth.

The union's endorsement is important both because it could yield financial contributions and because it comes with the potential for volunteer support for her campaign. (The union represents 1,000 workers at the city of Portland.)

It's another sign that Smith faces an uphill battle in the general election. In the nonpartisan primary, Hardesty received 46 percent of the vote in May, just shy of the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff in November. Smith received 21 percent.

In the primary, Hardesty had the support of the Portland Association of Teachers, while Smith had a slew of private-sector union endorsements, as well as the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. (The unions for the city's firefighters and for the police sat out the race, as did the Service Employees International Union locals.)