In a conference call this morning with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez will endorse the former first lady for president of the United States, according to sources close to the Clintons. Nunez will participate in the call with the frontrunning Democratic presidential candidate from a site at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.
“This is a great ‘get” for Hillary,” says a longtime friend of President Clinton and Senator Clinton of the 40-year old speaker. “Fabian Nunez is one of the brightest new figures in American politics. He is smart, he is charismatic, he is a leader on global warming, and he’s shown how to work across the aisle with a complicated guy like Arnold Schwarzenegger. What’s not to like?”
Nunez is one of the first major California Democrats to endorse in the early California presidential primary, which he, Governor Schwarzenegger, and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata worked successfully to move to February 5th next year. Only four much smaller states will vote before the Golden State next year: Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
“Hillary was already strong with Latinos,” says the Clinton friend. “With Fabian Nunez, she is that much stronger. He has a great network in LA and around the state.”
Nunez spoke with a number of Democratic presidential candidates before making his endorsement, including Illinois Senator Barack Obama, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, and New Mexico Governor and former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, the first major Latino presidential candidate. But the New York senator and former first lady proved to be his choice.
While there is nothing to report on this score at the moment, Nunez is known to have discussed presidential endorsements on a number of occasions with other members of the Assembly Democratic caucus.
Prior to his election to the Legislature, Nunez, a close friend of Los Angeles Mayor and former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, was the political director of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. In that capacity, he worked closely with the late Miguel Contreras, a near legendary figure as head of the labor federation whose widow, Maria Elena Durazo, is the current head of the union coalition.
Clinton leads in public and private polling for the California primary and is the national frontrunner among Democrats. But she is being seriously challenged in other early states and nationally by Barack Obama and John Edwards. A victory in the California primary is imperative for her candidacy.