California Governor Jerry Brown announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton just days ahead of next week’s crucial California Democratic primary. He did so by issuing an open letter to Democrats and Independents that urged Democrats to unite behind Hillary Clinton to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.
This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun.
The Governor noted that he was “deeply impressed” with Bernie Sanders and admired how well he has managed his campaign. Showing the kinship of a younger Jerry Brown with Bernie’s message, Brown characterized Sander’s contribution: “He has driven home the message that the top one percent has unfairly captured way too much of America’s wealth, leaving the majority of people far behind. In 1992, I attempted a similar campaign.”
Nevertheless, Brown noted that Clinton has amassed 3 million more votes than Sanders in the primaries and leads by hundreds of delegates. He stated that he felt Hillary’s lead was “insurmountable.” In other words, as The Washington Post noted, Jerry’s endorsement is based on the simple calculation that Hillary is going to win, and it’s time for Democrats to get on board.
Bill Clinton Closes the Deal
Reports emanating from the state capital suggested that it was former President Bill Clinton who convinced Gov. Brown to endorse Hillary during a private meeting last week in Sacramento. The resulting announcement of Brown’s support for Clinton represented a burying of the hatchet between the Clinton’s and Brown that dates back nearly twenty-five years.
Gov. Brown’s support for Hillary represented a burying of the hatchet between the Clinton’s and Brown dating back to the early 1990’s.
Their animosity dates back to 1992 when Jerry Brown lost to Bill Clinton in Brown’s third and final attempt to win the Democrat nomination for President. The primaries were hard fought, and Brown referred to Clinton as “the prince of sleaze.” Many Sanders’s supporters had seen similarities between Jerry Brown’s 1992 campaign Bernie Sanders in 2016 and were surprised at Brown’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
For Clinton, who has lost the momentum to Bernie in the past few weeks Brown’s support is better late than never, although it would have been more efficient if given a few weeks earlier. According to Political Data Inc., more than 1.5 million ballots have already been cast through the mail. Nevertheless, the endorsement of the popular Governor is welcome news to Clinton, who has found herself in a much closer race in The Golden State than she envisioned just a few weeks ago.
Does Gov. Brown’s endorsement matter?
To the outcome? Unlikely.
To the candidates’ followers? Perhaps.
To the candidates themselves? You bet.
Prior to the Governor making his announcement George Skelton, writing in the Los Angeles Times had an interesting piece on what effect a potential endorsement by Brown would have on the race. His conclusion was that while the Governor’s endorsement would little effect on the outcome, it was a politically significant one for Brown to make.
Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, concurred: “The Clintons are known to have an especially long memory.” David Townsend, a longtime Democratic strategist, noted, “Politicians have thin skins.” In other words, once Gov. Brown reached the conclusion that Hillary was going to be the nominee there was more upside than downside in endorsing her.
So will the Governor’s endorsement carry much weight with the voters? Both Townsend and Schnur think not. When asked if an endorsement influences voters, Townsend replied, “not for president.” Schnur concurred, noting, “The less people know about a candidate, the more important an endorsement is. If you’re running for president and have a 99.5% name ID, endorsements don’t matter nearly as much.”
One suspects that Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown’s heart belongs to Bernie and the populist ideals he represents. Nevertheless, his political head has convinced him that Hillary will win. We’ll find out next Tuesday if Brown should have listened to his head or his heart.