Washington – Although she’s considered her party’s front-runner in the race for the White House, Hillary Clinton has not locked up the endorsements of even half of the Democrats in Congress. So Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who endorsed Clinton last week, offered to help boost those numbers this week.
DeLauro, D-3rd District, endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. But Tuesday she held a gathering at her Capitol Hill townhouse that featured the Clinton campaign’s top staffers, including campaign Chairman John Podesta and National Political Director Amanda Renteria, who issued the invitations to the meet-and-greet.
DeLauro regularly holds policy salons at her Washington, D.C., home attended by dozens of House Democratic colleagues.
This event drew about 80 lawmakers, with Connecticut Reps. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, and John Larson, D-1st District, among them.
The Hill newspaper, which is keeping a running count of Clinton’s Capitol Hill endorsements, said this week the former first lady and secretary of state has secured endorsements from 103 Democratic lawmakers for her 2016 presidential run. Those supporters include 75 House members and 28 senators.
“I think there is some anxiety among those who weren’t ready for Hillary seven years ago, they want to be at the head of the parade,” said Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers University. “For all of the old Hillary backers, it’s always a good policy to kiss the ring as early as possible.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is among the earliest endorsers of Clinton’s campaign.
He threw his support to Clinton last summer, at a fundraiser in the state for the Ready for Hillary PAC, although Blumenthal said at the time he wasn’t even sure Clinton would run. She made that decision official earlier this month.
Blumenthal had not been elected to the Senate when Capitol Hill Democrats had to make the tough choice of backing Clinton or Obama. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, also was not in office yet.
Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, Larson and Sen. Chris Murphy – who was then a member of the House of Representatives – joined DeLauro in endorsing Obama in 2008.
They have yet to endorse Clinton, though Murphy has complimented her foreign affairs prowess and said he is a “big fan” of the Democratic presidential candidate.
Michele Swers, a professor of American government at Georgetown University, said that, as far as trying to sway public support, endorsements are not as important for Clinton this year as they were in 2008, when she had a tough opponent in Obama.
But Swers said endorsements still matter to establish party support and a campaign network “and to bring the wings of the Democratic Party together.”
“Meanwhile, those who are endorsing her are hoping to influence her policy,” Swers said.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are weighing challenging Clinton in a Democratic primary. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the choice of many Democratic progressives, has said repeatedly that she won’t run.