By Jonathan Easley - 12/26/15 03:58 PM EST
Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonThe media is rigging the election by reporting WikiLeaks emails Baby outbreak! Parody videos pushes for paid family leave Poll: Clinton outpacing Trump with millennials MORE has the support of nearly the entirety of the Democratic establishment, but key figures in the party are sitting on their endorsements.
President Obama, Vice President Biden, several Democratic leaders in Congress and one key union remain on the sidelines.
Still, Clinton is crushing Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhite House contest casts shadow over mega-deal Fed pressures Congress to spend Warren’s power on the rise MORE (I-Vt.) in the endorsements primary, claiming the support of 145 members of the House, 38 of the 46 senators who caucus with Democrats, 12 governors and 17 national union groups.
Sanders, by comparison, has only two Congressional endorsements and the backing of three labor groups.
The White House has said Obama intends to vote in Illinois’ March 15 Democratic primary. It would be viewed as a huge snub if the president casts his ballot for anyone but Clinton.
The White House earlier this year appeared to signal that Obama’s loyalties would lie with Vice President Biden should he have entered the race.
But with Biden on the sidelines, Obama is now a free agent.
Obama and Clinton have a complicated relationship. He upset her in the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination, but rewarded her with the secretary of State position in his administration.
While it's rare for a sitting president to endorse in a competitive primary, a public endorsement during the primary would go a long way to ending any perceived chill between the two.
Vice President Biden
Biden seriously considered challenging Clinton for the nomination, but a confluence of events – including the loss of his son -- conspired to keep him on the sidelines.
During Biden’s announcement that he’d pass on a presidential run, he not only declined to announce his support for Clinton, but dinged the Democratic front-runner for a remark she made at a debate, bemoaned legacy politics and warned the candidates not to take shots at Obama’s record on the campaign trail.
If that speech is any indication, Biden could decide to stay on the sidelines and play the role of referee, watching over the proceedings and weighing in when he believes his input can influence the discourse.
But Biden ultimately takes direction from his boss, so if the head of the Democratic Party moves to back Clinton, he could follow.
Sen. Harry Reid
Back in June, Reid said he’d announce his endorsement soon. That still hasn’t happened.
Reid’s hesitance could be due to the rise of Sanders, who soon after began attracting thousands on the campaign trail and gained in the polls of early-voting states.
It could be difficult for Reid to endorse when a member of his caucus is running for president.
But Reid has spoken warmly of Clinton and has nothing to lose, as his decades-long political career will come to an end next year.
Reid could be waiting to endorse closer to the Nevada caucuses to maximize impact.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi has hinted strongly that she supports Clinton as the Democratic nominee.
She faces the same problem as her counterpart, Speaker Paul Ryan, insofar as it makes little political sense for the minority leader to risk offending some of her caucus members over an endorsement.
But with the majority of House Democrats already in Clinton’s camp, an endorsement for Clinton could come soon.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Progressives furiously sought to recruit Warren to challenge Clinton for the nomination, but Warren made clear from the start that she had no intention of running.
Sanders has since bottled much of that energy left by Warren’s absence, and the Massachusetts senator’s commitment to reining in Wall Street is more in line with Sanders’s message.
Still, Warren is allergic to politics, and may wait until the party decides on a nominee before throwing her weight around.
Clinton is crushing Sanders in the race for labor support, but the nation’s largest union group remains notably on the sidelines.
The Teamsters have in the past largely abstained from endorsing in presidential primaries.
But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has spoken warmly of Sanders and Biden, before he bowed out, and Clinton has been criticized by some in the labor movement for her proximity to President Obama’s trade legislation.
Some see that as a rift, and some see it as Trumka playing hard-to-get with the Democratic front-runner, who has since backed away from the trade legislation.
Trumka has said it’s “conceivable” that his group will endorse during the primaries.
The AFL-CIO has not endorsed a candidate during a presidential primary since it backed Al Gore in 1999, early in the 2000 presidential cycle.
Gov. Jerry Brown
Hailing from the nation’s largest liberal state, Brown is the biggest name on a thin bench of influential Democratic governors.
Brown ran against Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic primary, and in 2010, while running for governor, he made a joke about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky that backfired.
Brown apologized and Bill Clinton later campaigned on his behalf.
But Brown was critical of Hillary Clinton over the summer when her email controversy dominated headlines, saying the former secretary of State had left the door open to a challenge from Biden.
He has otherwise spoken warmly of her, and noted that he’s never seen a Democratic candidate with such strong national support.
A primary endorsement could put the bow on that relationship.
- Updated at 7:53 p.m.