The Slatest

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva Becomes First Member of Congress to Endorse Bernie Sanders

Arizona Democrat Raul Grijálva at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 12, 2014.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

One of the obstacles to becoming president that Bernie Sanders faces is that, while he might be doing well against Hillary Clinton in many polls, he’s still far behind her in collecting endorsements from other elected officials. As Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site says, endorsements have typically been “among the best predictors of which candidates will succeed and which will fail” in presidential primaries; in addition to their PR value, they’re often accompanied by behind-the-scenes advice and support. Before today, Hillary Clinton had been endorsed by 153 members of Congress/state governors while Sanders had been endorsed by zero. But! Today Bernie got his first Congressional endorsement, from Democratic Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva. From the Los Angeles Times:

The announcement is expected Friday night when the two appear together at a Tucson rally, part of a Sanders swing through the West ahead of next week’s first Democratic debate, in Las Vegas.

Grijalva, a liberal Democrat serving his seventh term representing a southern Arizona district including Tucson, is co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Sanders – a self-described Democratic socialist – helped cofound as a House member in 1991.

Grijalva told the New York Times that he hopes his endorsement can help Sanders gain credibility with nonwhite voters, who’ve been generally hesitant to support the Vermont liberal:

“Latino sectors of the country, African-Americans, people of color — they’re feeling the economic pain as much as anyone else,” said Mr. Grijalva, who is Mexican-American. “Bernie has good positions on immigration and education, which are fountain issues for the Latino community. There’s an opportunity to talk about those and expose the fact that Bernie is not just a one-tune candidate, which he’s not.”

(I assume he that should be “foundation issues” or “foundational issues” because the phrase “fountain issues” does not appear to have a known political meaning.)

If you ask me, though, what this announcement is really about is the natural kinship of two balding men who like the way their wispy hair blows in the breeze when they’re making a particularly important point.

Photos by Chip Somodevilla (left) and Alex Wong/Getty Images