Once A Foe, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Endorses Hillary Clinton Ahead Of Primary

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the 91st Annual Sacramento Host Breakfast earlier this month. Brown endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of his state's primary next week. (AP)
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the 91st Annual Sacramento Host Breakfast earlier this month. Brown endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton ahead of his state's primary next week. (AP)

Bill Clinton may finally deem Jerry Brown fit to be on the same platform as Hillary Clinton.

The California governor is endorsing Clinton a week ahead of California's primary, framing the decision as a response to the threat posed by a potential Donald Trump presidency.

"The stakes couldn't be higher," Brown wrote in an open letter posted at his website. "Our country faces an existential threat from climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. A new cold war is on the horizon. This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun. Hillary Clinton, with her long experience, especially as Secretary of State, has a firm grasp of the issues and will be prepared to lead our country on day one."

Brown, who also serves as a Democratic superdelegate, had avoided weighing in on the presidential contest until now. But both Clinton and Sanders are campaigning fiercely in California, despite the fact that Clinton is all but certain to clinch the delegates needed for the Democratic presidential nomination on June 7.

Sanders is hoping that a surprise win in the nation's largest state could help convince superdelegates to back him at the party's July convention, despite the fact that Clinton will very likely end the primary season with more pledged delegates, and millions more popular votes, than Sanders.

Jerry Brown attends a U.N. climate change conference in April. Brown cites Donald Trump's climate change skepticism as a reason for endorsing Hillary Clinton.
Jerry Brown attends a U.N. climate change conference in April. Brown cites Donald Trump's climate change skepticism as a reason for endorsing Hillary Clinton.

While Brown endorsed Clinton, he noted that he was "deeply impressed" with Sanders' campaign. "He has driven home the message that the top 1 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."

That contest reached its climax in a primary debate where Brown accused Bill Clinton of "funneling money to his wife's law firm for state business." Clinton seethed, turning to face Brown directly. "I don't care what you say about me," Clinton said. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife. You're not worth being on the same platform as my wife."

But it's been 24 long years since that exchange, and Brown is a much different politician than he was in the 1990s. While big, liberal ideas consumed Brown's energy during his first stint as California governor in the late 1970s and early 80s, Brown has focused much more on nuts-and-bolts governance during his second stint in Sacramento.

The more practical, budget-balancing Brown can be heard in the Clinton endorsement. "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," he wrote.

Brown also made the case that many Clinton surrogates have been repeating in recent weeks. Pointing out her three-million-vote lead over Sanders, Brown noted that, "Clinton's lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown — by millions of votes — that they want her as their nominee.

California's primary is next Tuesday. It's partially open, meaning independents are able to vote in the Democratic primary, but they have to specifically request a ballot for the race.

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