Feel The Bern: Sanders Nabs First Congressional Endorsement

In a world where endorsements predict whether or not a candidate wins the primary, Bernie Sanders has just received his first, but somehow, the odds were already in his favor.

At Sanders’ upcoming rally on Friday in Tucson, Arizona, Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva will be announcing his bid to endorse Sanders’ campaign. This will be Sanders’ first endorsement from a member of Congress. The formal announcement comes right before Sanders heads to Las Vegas for the first Democratic debate on Tuesday, October 13.

Feel The Bern: Sanders Nabs First Congressional Endorsement
Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Raul Grijalva is a liberal Democrat who is serving in his seventh term as the representative from Arizona’s third district. Grijalva has worked with Sanders in the past; one endeavor was working on a set of bills banning private prisons. In 1991, Grijalva and Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is “committed to helping progressives, both inside and outside of Congress, to work together more effectively, in order to bring all of us closer to making good on The Progressive Promise.” The Caucus was created when Sanders was still a House member, and the current chairs are Grijalva and Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota.

Grijalva is also a long-time member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which some feel that from a strategic standpoint, will help Sanders better appeal to the Latino population.

Once Grijalva officially announces his support on Friday, Sanders will be tied with rival former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who also has one Capitol Hill backer. O’Malley was endorsed by California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell over the summer.

Sanders, however, has one more contender to top: Hillary Rodham Clinton has received endorsements from at least 30 senators, 100 Representatives, and 9 Governors. According to HuffPost Pollster, Clinton leads the estimated vote with 43.5 percent; Sanders follows with 25.3 percent. Vice President Joe Biden–who has not officially declared intent to run–follows at 20.4 percent; O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, former Rhode Island Governor/Senator Lincoln Chafee, and Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig each have one percent or fewer of the estimated vote total.

Feel The Bern: Sanders Nabs First Congressional Endorsement
Photo courtesy of Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Though Biden has not decided to run yet, he has already garnered support from Delaware Governor Jack Markell, as well as the state’s three-man Congressional delegation if he decides to run. He has until the day of the first debate–again, Tuesday, October 13–to decide if he would like to take part in the debate and run for President.

Now, as Sanders himself said, don’t underestimate him. Sanders may not have everyone on Capitol Hill endorsing him, but Sanders is able to draw massive crowds, and Sanders has proven that point in Phoenix, Seattle, and Boston. Sanders also has backing from numerous public figures, such as physicians, activists, actors, musicians, artists, and more. For example, popular artists such as Will Farrell, Flea, John C. Reilly, and Sarah Silverman have all signed on to endorse Sanders.

Sanders also announced Wednesday that he is going to “work very aggressively” to attract Latino voters, as since Sanders’ state does not have a strong Latino representation. Sanders spoke on the topic at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual Public Policy Conference.

“Let me be very honest with you. I come from a state, the state of Vermont, [and] it’s a small state; there aren’t a lot of Latino people. What we are trying very, very hard to do — you are going to see us moving very aggressively in that area — is introduce myself to the Latino community. I will fight for every vote I can get in the Latino community.”

In a September NBC News poll, it seemed that Hillary Clinton was the name most recognized amongst Latinos, which may be the reasoning behind her success with the Latino population. In contrast, only 25 percent of those polled were familiar with Bernie Sanders.

[Featured image by Darren McCollester/Stringer]