California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature, Jan. 21, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif.
Photo by Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Why Jerry Brown’s Hillary Clinton endorsement matters

California’s Democratic presidential primary is a week from today, and recent polling suggests Hillary Clinton is the favorite, at least for now, over Bernie Sanders. That said, a lot can happen in a week, and the Clinton campaign is showing signs of anxiety, scrapping events elsewhere and scheduling events in the Golden State in order to boost her chances.
The point is less about the overall race for the party’s nomination – unless Sanders wins California by 50 points, a victory in this primary wouldn’t change the fight for delegates – and more about incentives. A win in the nation’s largest state would encourage the Vermont senator to keep fighting harder, longer, and more aggressively, even after Democratic voters have had their say.
And with that in mind, the Clinton campaign was no doubt delighted this morning to learn California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has endorsed the Democratic frontrunner, calling her “the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump.”
“I have closely watched the primaries and am deeply impressed with how well Bernie Sanders has done. 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.
“For her part, Hillary Clinton has convincingly made the case that she knows how to get things done and has the tenacity and skill to advance the Democratic agenda. Voters have responded by giving her approximately 3 million more votes – and hundreds more delegates – than Sanders. If Clinton were to win only 10 percent of the remaining delegates – wildly improbable – she would still exceed the number needed for the nomination. In other words, Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee.”
Brown added, “Next January, I want to be sure that it is Hillary Clinton who takes the oath of office, not Donald Trump.”
As endorsements go, this one isn’t exactly filled with effusive praise – the California governor’s statement focuses largely on pragmatism, arithmetic, and seething hatred for Donald Trump – but what’s striking about this morning’s announcement is the fact that it happened at all.
Keep in mind, most of the nation’s Democratic governors endorsed Clinton months ago, but Brown stayed on the sidelines. Many suspected it was because of the lingering bad blood between the governor and the Clintons, which was evident in 1992.
Indeed, one of the more memorable moments of the Democratic primaries that year was a heated debate in March 1992, when Brown, citing evidence given to him by Ralph Nader, accused then-Gov. Bill Clinton of “funneling money to his wife’s law firm for state business.”
Clinton replied, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You’re not worth being on the same platform as my wife.”
The resentment didn’t go away. By the time of the 1992 convention, Brown refused to endorse Clinton, Clinton didn’t want Brown to have a sought-after speaking slot, and Brown even worked on his own rival party platform, despite coming in second in the race for the nomination.
More than two decades later, however, the animosity has cooled, and Brown now wants Californians to back Hillary Clinton. Given the circumstances, it’s support the Democratic frontrunner is no doubt thrilled to accept.

California, Hillary Clinton and Jerry Brown

Why Jerry Brown's Hillary Clinton endorsement matters