Congressman Raúl Grijalva Jumps Ship, Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Arizona's most liberal Congressman, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, is now endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

Grijalva made headlines this past October when he became the first national politician to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and since then, the Tucson Congressman has been a vocal supporter and surrogate for his candidate: going to rallies and speaking engagements, penning op-eds, giving media interviews.

But with Clinton having all but secured the Democratic nomination, Grijalva announced in a written statement this morning that it was time for the party to unify behind her in order to defeat Donald Trump.

"For all of us who supported Bernie from the beginning, whether we considered ourselves progressives or independents or just Americans tired of being on the outside looking in, the most important thing now is to beat Donald Trump in November," Grijalva wrote. "To use a word that's been thrown around a lot lately, now is the time to unify."

While Grijalva could not be reached for comment, he is the latest Sanders backer to come out in support of Clinton. Earlier this month, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley — the only senator to publicly endorse Sanders — announced he too was now Team Hillary.

For weeks, Democratic party leaders have put pressure on Sanders to suspend his campaign and endorse Clinton, but Sanders has refused, saying that all voters in all states should have the chance to cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice. Sanders has vowed to continue his campaign all the way to the convention, which starts July 25 in Philadelphia. But he is scheduled to deliver a speech this evening on the future of his campaign — meaning we'll have to wait and see what happens.

Grijalva's letter didn't specifically call on Sanders to concede or suspend his campaign, but it did address the so-called #BernieOrBust crowd, those who've said they'll vote for Sanders or not vote at all.

He encouraged them to continue fighting for the ideas their candidate brought into the mainstream discussion and to take pride in the fact that "from now on, Democrats will celebrate Sandersism and channel its energy not just to electoral victory, but to better decisions for the American people."

Grijalva seemed to speak to the rest of the Democratic party when he wrote, "Unity will not be realized if the millions of voters who supported Bernie Sanders feel taken for granted."

It wasn't until the very end of the lengthy message that Grijalva mentioned Clinton by name. "Our country needs a president who understands why the American people are hungry for something better and more substantial than political trench warfare...," he wrote. "Hillary Clinton has the capacity and the instincts needed to carry forward what has been started. I support her and will do what I can to help ensure her victory. I firmly believe that her victory will only come when she and the Democratic Party articulate the themes this movement has so powerfully expressed."

Grijalva's endorsement comes on the same day that the influential AFL-CIO labor union announced it is backing Clinton, and exactly a week after President Barack Obama met privately with Sanders and then very publicly announced he would begin campaigning for Clinton. 

Read Grijalva's Full Statement: