Following his decisive loss to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders landed a mixed bag of surprise endorsements: one from a notoriously volatile hedge fund manager-turned-congressman, who is under investigation for potential ethics violations, and the other from a rising star of the Democratic party.
On Monday morning, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) announced his support online in a blog post titled “I Feel the Bern.” Grayson, a super-delegate who is serving his third term in the House, said that a recent online poll he conducted showed 86 percent support for Sanders (this number is at odds with national polls, which show Sanders down 7.5 percent against Hillary Clinton as of Monday).
While the Sanders campaign thanked Grayson, his support may not be doing it any favors. Grayson has been in favor of regulating Wall Street, but raised eyebrows with his decision to continue running a hedge fund while he served in the House of Representatives. That decision prompted an ongoing House Committee on Ethics inquiry and a searing New York Times investigation published earlier this month, which alleged that . Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has urged Grayson to drop his bid for the Florida Senate seat. Grayson denies any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) on Sunday resigned as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sanders (as chairwoman, she was not allowed to support a candidate). In a filmed speech posted to her official YouTube account, Gabbard said, “I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high…We can elect a president who will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime change, or we can elect a president who will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.”
Gabbard’s decision follows a public squabble with DNC leadership last year after she appeared on MSNBC calling for more Democratic presidential debates. The DNC had faced criticism for limiting the number of televised debates, which was seen as a ploy to protect Hillary Clinton’s candidacy from the insurgent Sanders' campaign.
These two unexpected endorsements nearly double the ranks of elected lawmakers supporting Sanders—he still only has 5. Clinton, meanwhile, has racked up more than 200, including 12 governors and a host of former Congressional colleagues.
Sanders thanked both Grayson and Gabbard for their endorsements.