LAS VEGAS — The most powerful union in labor-heavy Nevada announced Thursday that it won’t endorse a candidate before the Feb. 22 caucuses.

That’s a blow to Joe Biden, who’d hoped for their endorsement. And it’s a sign that in spite of the union’s dislike of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan it couldn’t get on the same page to push a single alternative option.

“We’re not going to endorse a candidate,” Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline announced in a Thursday afternoon press conference in front of the union’s Las Vegas offices.

This is the latest sign that a crowded lane for moderate Democrats is stymying efforts for those who want to stop Sanders from the nomination.

The 60,000-member union is one of the most powerful locals in the country and the main cog in Nevada’s Democratic machine. It has been gradually increasing attacks on Sanders over the past days — but its decision not to endorse may make it even harder for anti-Sanders Democrats to coalesce in time to stop him ahead of the Feb. 22 Nevada Democratic Caucuses.

But just because it isn’t picking a horse doesn’t mean the union won’t cause some major headaches for Sanders.

The union has already posted flyers in hotels and other work sites across Las Vegas and Reno warning that Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would “end Culinary Healthcare,” just days after another flyer warned that the Medicare for All plan backed by Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would force “millions of hard working people to give up their healthcare,” create “unnecessary division between workers,” and “give us four more years of Trump.”

It looked for some time like the union would back Biden, who has their former political director, Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela (D), on staff. But after Biden’s disastrous showings in Iowa and New Hampshire it’s unclear how viable he’ll be in Nevada.

It’s unclear how much damage the union can do to Sanders, however, especially if it isn’t trying to rally its workers around a single alternative. The union backed Obama in the state in 2008 but he ended up losing the caucuses to Hillary Clinton. In 2016 the union never officially endorsed but worked quietly to help Clinton grind out a win over Sanders, much to the consternation of Sanders backers.

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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