PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A powerful teachers union in Rhode Island has thrown its support behind Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Clay Pell.

The political action committee of the National Education Association's Rhode Island affiliate said Thursday it voted unanimously to support Pell, a former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

NEARI President Larry Purtill said the governor's race is critical to public education and that "Clay gets it." Purtill said the state needs a candidate who will listen to educators and "stop the testing craze."

Pell, the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell, is running in the September primary against Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

NEARI's PAC also endorsed the re-election bids of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline.