Former Sanders Surrogate Lucy Flores Endorses Elizabeth Warren

Flores, who served in the Nevada legislature, accused former Vice President Joe Biden of unwanted touching.

Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman who was a prominent surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during his 2016 presidential run, announced Wednesday that she is backing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the Democratic primary.

Warren “listens before she speaks. She is willing to admit when she’s wrong and make swift and necessary changes. She speaks her truths instead of poll-tested talking points,” Flores wrote in a Medium post announcing her endorsement. “And when Elizabeth speaks, she speaks to people like me.”

The endorsement comes as a boost for Warren as Sanders, her progressive rival in the nominating contest, is experiencing something of a resurgence. Sanders, who had been faltering in polls before he suffered a heart attack at the start of the month, delivered an energetic debate performance on Oct. 15. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York announced their endorsement of Sanders shortly thereafter.

Lucy Flores, seen here campaigning for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during his 2016 presidential run, is backing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this time.
Lucy Flores, seen here campaigning for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during his 2016 presidential run, is backing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this time.
Ethan MillerGetty Images

Flores is one of a number of elected officials, mostly at the state and local level, who backed Sanders’ last bid but are now throwing their support behind Warren. The most high-profile defector is Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, the first member of Congress to endorse Sanders in the 2016 election cycle, who announced his endorsement of Warren in August.

Flores, an attorney who now runs the Los Angeles-based digital media company Luz Collective and serves on the board of the Women’s March, made national waves in March after accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of unwanted affectionate touching while she was running for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014. Before he spoke on her behalf at a rally in Las Vegas, Flores said that Biden came up behind her, smelled her hair and kissed her head without asking permission.

At the time, at least one prominent Democrat speculated without evidence that Sanders put Flores up to it, which both Flores and the Sanders campaign immediately denied.

Warren was one of the first presidential candidates to say she believed Flores and that the former Nevada lawmaker deserved an apology from Biden. Flores does not mention Biden in her post.

In her endorsement, Flores, the daughter of working-class Mexican immigrants, said she identified with Warren’s personal story of overcoming economic hardship. She was particularly impressed with Warren’s remarks at the “She the People” summit in April, which she said reflected a sensitivity to the intersecting forces of poverty, sexism, racism and religious bigotry. (Sanders, whom Flores does not reference in her essay, elicited groans at the same gathering for citing his experience in the 1960s civil rights movement in response to a question about his specific plans to help women of color.)

“Not a single candidate has all the answers or all of the solutions, but when I hear Elizabeth Warren speak, I hear a woman who takes our struggles with her everywhere she goes,” Flores wrote. “I hear a woman who understands that the American people can’t afford anything less than bold solutions. I see a woman who has proven time and time again that she doesn’t just have tenacity and the intelligence to lead this country and defeat Trump, she has the heart and the courage.”

In an interview with HuffPost, Flores also praised Warren’s record of political and policy accomplishments, including the development of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“When you can point to that kind of a success record, it’s not so much about being pragmatic, it’s literally who can put forward a bold progressive agenda and has proven that those things can be executed,” she said.

Although Flores served as one of Sanders’ appointees to a Democratic National Committee panel that convened in 2017 to recommend reforms to the party’s presidential nominating process, her decision not to endorse the Vermont senator is not entirely surprising.

In April 2018, Flores resigned from the board of Our Revolution, the nonprofit that emerged from Sanders’ 2016 bid, in protest over what she saw as the group’s insensitivity to Latinx priorities. And earlier this year, Flores told HuffPost that she was keeping her options open given the abundance of candidates running.

The Warren campaign declined to comment about whether and how they plan to deploy Flores as a surrogate. Flores’ home state of Nevada holds its Democratic caucus on Feb. 22, and voters in her adopted state of California cast their primary ballots on March 3 — aka Super Tuesday.

“I’m willing to try to help Elizabeth Warren be the next president of the United States in whatever way possible,” Flores told HuffPost.

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