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With a flurry of endorsements, Bernie Sanders shores up Nevada support

The Clark County Black Caucus said Thursday that it would throw its support behind Bernie Sanders, the latest in a flurry of Nevada endorsements this week as he seeks to shore up support in a key early contest.

"When you look at his platform and his consistency, over the years he has a long history fighting for civil rights and economic justice," Yvette Williams, chair of the Clark County Black Caucus, tells CBS News.

"We've interviewed him as well, and he has concrete plans in place that will address many of the inequities, inequalities, and injustices of black America," Williams added.

Clark County includes Las Vegas and is far and away the most populous county in the state. Racking up supporters in the county is essential for any candidate who hopes to win the Nevada caucuses on February 22nd.

The Clark County Black Caucus' endorsement comes as other Nevada groups have rallied to Sanders. On Tuesday, the immigrant rights group Make the Road Action made public its plans to leverage their organizing heft in Nevada for the Sanders campaign. Meanwhile, the Clark County Education Association, Nevada's largest teachers union, announced Monday that it too would back the Vermont senator. 

Sanders has invested heavily in Nevada, which votes third after Iowa and New Hampshire. The contest is seen as a crucial test of candidates' support among Hispanic and Asian American voters, as well as the powerful labor unions that dominate Democratic politics in the state. 

The Nevada caucuses could also be an early barometer for neighboring California, the mammoth Super Tuesday contest where the Sanders campaign has also focused significant resources.

Sanders boasts 10 offices and over 100 staffers in Nevada, the most of any candidate the state. And if not for a heart attack that sidelined the senator in Las Vegas more than three months ago, he would have recorded the most days publicly campaigning in Nevada of any candidate in the race.

"The Clark County Black Caucus represents the diverse coalition we're building in Nevada and I am proud to gain their support," Sanders said in a statement. 

"Their voice and leadership has brought meaningful change in the lives of the communities they serve, and together, we will fight against a government and political system that have historically oppressed African Americans," he added in part.

The Clark County Black Caucus, which backed Sanders in 2016, had endorsed Cory Booker late last year after a vote among its membership of some 400 Nevadans. At the time, the group indicated that Sanders was their second choice. 

Booker, who suspended his campaign for president on Monday, suggested Tuesday in an interview with "CBS This Morning" that he was not yet ready to endorse a Democratic candidate for president. However, multiple backers of Booker tell CBS News they have already been aggressively courted by other campaigns.

Recent polls in Nevada show Sanders in a tight race with Joe Biden this year. But while Biden's team is dwarfed by the staff Sanders has amassed, the former vice president has nabbed the support of key progressive leaders in the state

The leadership of the influential Nevada Culinary Union has remained publicly skeptical of Medicare for All, the single-payer healthcare proposal at the heart of the Sanders platform. And just this week, a USA Today/Suffolk survey showed Sanders still trailing the Biden among black Nevada caucus-goers.

Williams hopes the Clark County Black Caucus can help boost the senator's chances among that demographic and is planning events to support the campaign in its home stretch. Early voting in Nevada kicks off in just a month, on February 15th.

"I have no ill will with Biden. But I just strongly believe that it's time for change for black America. It's time for Bernie Sanders and his policy that's going to provide for an America that's more racially just," said Williams.

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