After holding off on an endorsement decision for months, Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford announced today he was endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid, making him the second of Nevada’s three Democratic representatives to back the one-time frontrunner.
Horsford’s endorsement follows that of Rep. Dina Titus, who officially backed Biden back in November. The other Democrat in the state’s four-member House delegation, Rep. Susie Lee, said last year it was likely she would not endorse during the primary.
The state’s two senators, Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, have also said they are unlikely to endorse ahead of the caucus on Feb. 22.
In a statement, Horsford said that “Joe knows Nevada,” adding that he believes “[Biden] is ready to do the job of president on day one.”
Horsford’s statement also praised Biden’s policy positions including his opposition to a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, his work on the passage of the Affordable Care Act and his sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act.
The endorsement comes at a crucial time for Biden’s campaign, after the once heavily favored Democratic frontrunner struggled to hold ground in the first two nominating contests and ultimately finished fourth and fifth in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.
Biden’s campaign has long downplayed expectations in those early states, saying instead that support for the vice president would pick back up in more diverse states such as Nevada and South Carolina, where Biden has maintained a lead in the polls among black and Latino voters. Biden told donors at a New York City event on Thursday that he expects to place first or second in Nevada’s caucus.
Still, the campaign lost out this week on the endorsement of Las Vegas’ powerful Culinary Workers Union after the union announced yesterday it would decline to endorse any candidate in the race. The union has long had close ties to the Biden camp, and the former vice president was thought to be a plausible endorsement pick ahead of the caucuses.
Little polling has been done in Nevada in the run up to next week’s caucuses, though what polls do exist show a tightening race between Sanders and Biden. A Las Vegas Review-Journal/AARP Nevada poll released today showed Sanders leading, 25 percent to Biden’s 18 percent, while a USA Today/Suffolk poll from January found the pair virtually tied at 18 percent for Sanders and 19 percent for Biden.
In the race for endorsements, however, no other candidate has matched Biden in Nevada, where he’s received endorsements from more than 30 current or former elected officials.