Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell endorsed Joe Biden for president Friday, giving the former vice president his 11th endorsement from a black member of Congress heading into the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
The timing is no coincidence: Sewell said Biden’s life work has exemplified King’s legacy, and that’s why she’s choosing to announce her support for him now.
“There’s no bigger threat to the civil rights and voting rights that are so important to my district than Donald Trump,” said Sewell, who represents a majority-minority district that includes parts of Birmingham, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa and all of Selma. “Coupled with [Biden’s] vast experience is also his ability to cross the aisle to unite folks, and I think that that makes him the best candidate, in my opinion, to take on and beat Donald Trump in November.”
In a phone interview with POLITICO, Sewell said Biden is the preferred candidate of the base of the Democratic Party: black women. Her mother, Nancy Gardner Sewell — the first black woman elected to the Selma City Council — also supports him and is running to be a Biden delegate.
The veteran Alabama congresswoman, who attended a phone bank event with Jill Biden in Birmingham earlier this month, will return to the campaign trail this weekend to join the ex-vice president at events in South Carolina on Sunday and Monday.
“I look forward to telling Southern voters that are really important to Super Tuesday why it is I believe that Joe is the best candidate to move the nation forward and to really beat Donald Trump and protect the legacy that is Martin Luther King, fighting for justice and equality for all,” she added.
Alabama votes on Super Tuesday, March 3.
Biden now has the support of the only two Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation. Sen. Doug Jones endorsed the former vice president in April. Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, the state’s most populous city, backed Biden last month.
Sewell, a vice chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition in the House, is the latest moderate Democrat to rally behind Biden, who has won endorsements this month from Reps. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, Conor Lamb and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Colin Allred of Texas, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Tom Malinowski of New Jersey.
Sewell framed Biden as the antidote to Trump, whom she described as “the biggest threat to the Democratic values that we hold dear.” Biden, she continued, is an authentic, known, presidential figure who can not only restore the dignity of the office but provide a boost to Democrats up and down the ballot.
“Joe at the top of the ticket is a huge boost for us maintaining our Democratic majority in the House and trying to gain a majority in the Senate,” Sewell said.
Biden has a significant lead over his rivals in endorsements from the influential Congressional Black Caucus, reflecting his support from African American voters. Sewell said she and Biden have talked a lot about the importance of having diversity on the Democratic ticket. The current front-runners for the nomination are all white, and the only black candidate remaining is former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, whose late bid has struggled to gain any traction.
“At the end of the day, I do trust Joe to choose someone who’s a complement to him and also will further solidify our support and further reaffirm his ability to lead but also his ability to unite,” she said. “Ultimately, the decision is his. But I do trust that he will make a decision that is complementary and diverse.”