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60 Dems endorse Hillary for 2016

Sixty Democratic lawmakers say they would endorse Hillary Clinton for president if she launches a 2016 White House bid, according to a survey conducted by The Hill. [SEE COMPLETE LIST]

Twenty-three congressional Democrats had already publicly endorsed Clinton. An additional 37 members told The Hill that if Clinton runs, they would back her in the Democratic primary. 

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The level of support is astounding, especially 2 1/2 years before the Democratic Party hosts its nominating convention. The total represents more than 20 percent of the 253 Democrats in the House and Senate. It is also more than half of the lawmaker endorsements Clinton received in 2008.

The list of 60 includes liberals and centrists who represent states from California to Ohio to New Hampshire.

The Hill contacted congressional Democrats to ask whether they would back Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary if she runs. Most offices did not respond to requests for comment, or declined to comment. 

A Senate Democratic aide said, “You want us to comment on whether the senator supports a candidate who hasn’t declared, in a race that isn’t underway and in which no one is running?”

Two members who were on Clinton’s so-called enemies list during her presidential campaign have already endorsed her for 2016: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.). The existence of the enemies list was reported in HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, a new book by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Bloomberg’s Jonathan Allen.

McCaskill, who backed then-Sen. Barack Obama over Clinton in 2008, famously said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she didn’t want her daughter around former President Bill Clinton. She later apologized. Andrews, meanwhile, endorsed Clinton in 2008 but encouraged Democrats to unite around Obama in the late stages of the race.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is among the early backers of Clinton, even though Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) might also run. Hoyer said he is an “admirer” of Clinton’s, believes she would be an “excellent president” and would back her if she chooses to run.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has hinted she would support Clinton in the 2016 primary but has stopped short of explicitly saying so.

Of Clinton’s supporters in Congress, 11 endorsed Obama over Clinton in the 2008 primary. They include Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.).  

“I would jump off the Willis Tower, which is the tallest building in Chicago, to support Hillary Clinton,” Davis told The Hill.

“I was happy to support Barack Obama, and I’m happy to support Hillary Clinton,” Grijalva said.

Other endorsers include Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), who is running for governor, and Senate hopeful Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii).

Michele Swers, professor of American government at Georgetown University, said early endorsers of Clinton’s believe she has the best shot to win and want to be seen as “backing a winner.”

More than half of Clinton’s endorsements in Congress have come from female politicians. Early last year, all 16 female Democratic senators signed a then-private letter addressed to Clinton, urging her to run.

Still, there are some who prefer to wait. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), for example, said, although she is “excited at the prospect of having a female president,” her main focus right now is the 2014 midterm election.

Deborah Jordan Brooks, professor of American politics at Dartmouth College and author of "He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates," said, “Like their male counterparts, most women politicians will also want to know what the broader array of candidate options are before announcing a choice and won’t want to show their cards until later.”

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) quipped, “I don’t know what I had for breakfast today much less who I’ll be voting for in two years.”

Swers said it might be better for members to hold off until later: “If I’m a member of Congress, I might want to wait for her to declare and get some favors, and I’d like my endorsement to have the maximum impact.”

 

This article was last updated on May 6 at 12:30 p.m.