California Gov. Jerry Brown, shown earlier in the month, endorsed...

California Gov. Jerry Brown, shown earlier in the month, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in an open letter to California Democrats on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Credit: AP / Rich Pedroncelli

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, calling her the best chance to defeat what he said would be a disastrous victory by Donald Trump.

Brown waited until a week before his state’s June 7 Democratic primary, a vote that could embarrass Clinton on the day she is widely expected to clinch the presidential nomination.

“I have decided to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton because I believe this is the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump,” he wrote in what he called an open letter to state Democrats. He spelled out his reasons, including Trump’s opposition to global agreements on climate change, but did not urge Democrats to follow his lead.

Clinton has effectively already won, and it is time to focus on defeating Trump, Brown wrote. “This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun,” he wrote. “Hillary Clinton, with her long experience, especially as secretary of state, has a firm grasp of the issues and will be prepared to lead our country on Day One.”

Clinton’s campaign emailed a copy of the letter to reporters Tuesday without comment.

Brown praised Sen. Bernie Sanders on his way to calling Clinton qualified and capable. Sanders “has driven home the message that the top one percent has unfairly captured way too much of America’s wealth, leaving the majority of people far behind,” he wrote.

Sanders is riding a late surge of support in the nation’s most diverse state. Clinton, despite winning more pledged delegates overall and never trailing Sanders throughout the long primary fight, has failed to excite many of her party’s most liberal voters and lacks support from young voters.

Brown’s support follows decades of sometimes acid criticism of both Hillary and Bill Clinton. One of the longest feuds in Democratic politics began when Brown ran against Bill Clinton in the 1992 primary and won five states.

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