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Clinton solidifies key endorsements from legislative black caucus

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Las Vegas.

Posted: Friday, February 19, 2016 3:15 pm

Hillary Clinton on Friday picked up key endorsements from minority lawmakers in her bid to secure victory in Virginia’s March 1 Democratic presidential primary.

Most members of the General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus endorsed the former secretary of state over rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“After carefully studying the candidates’ positions on issues that impact my constituents in Hampton, I’m proud to join many of my colleagues in the Legislative Black Caucus to announce my endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president,” Sen. Mamie E. Locke, D-Hampton, chairwoman of the caucus, said in a statement issued by the campaign.

“Hillary will build on President Obama’s progress by fixing our broken criminal justice system, fighting systemic racism, and breaking down the barriers that are holding families back from economic success,” Locke added, saying Clinton is the “only candidate who will protect and build” on the Affordable Care Act.

“Hillary has spent her whole career fighting for communities like ours and I know she’ll continue that fight as president.”

Clinton picked up the endorsements of state Sens. Kenneth C. Alexander, D-Norfolk; Locke; A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, and L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth.

Also endorsing Clinton are Dels. Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg; Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico; Daun Sessoms Hester, D-Norfolk; Matthew James, D-Portsmouth; Joseph C. Lindsey, D-Norfolk; Jennifer L. McClellan, D-Richmond; Delores L. McQuinn, D-Richmond;; Lionell D. Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake; Luke E. Torian, D-Prince William; Roslyn C. Tyler, D-Sussex; and Jeion A. Ward, D-Hampton.

Four members of the Black Caucus are not on the list: Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg; and Dels. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, and Marcia S. Price, D-Newport News — the niece of Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, D-3rd. Scott is on Clinton’s Virginia leadership team.

Clinton also has the support of the top elected Democrats in Virginia, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who led her 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination; U.S. Sens. Timothy M. Kaine and Mark R. Warner; Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam; and Attorney General Mark R. Herring.

Underscoring the importance of Virginia, Clinton and Sanders are up with ads airing in the commonwealth appealing to African-American voters. Clinton’s is a Virginia ad buy; Sanders’ is part of a national cable TV ad buy.

Clinton led Sanders among likely Democratic primary voters, 52 percent to 40 percent in a Virginia poll that Christopher Newport University released Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Clinton spoke at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York and outlined the steps she will take to bring what her campaign terms “more equity and opportunity” to African-American communities.

She said she would end the school-to-prison pipeline by investing $2 billion of support to school districts to reform their school discipline practices and expand behavioral support programs.

Clinton also addressed mass incarceration and the disparity in sentencing between crack and cocaine, and said she would invest $125 billion to revitalize the economy with jobs, re-entry programs and small business incentives in affected communities.

Sanders says on his website that the U.S. must “pursue policies to transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color,” beginning by “addressing the five central types of violence waged against black, brown and indigenous Americans: physical, political, legal, economic and environmental.”