Gov. Ted Kulongoski has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying "she resonates with my values."
Oregonians won't choose among Democratic candidates until May 20, when the race is likely to be over. But a Clinton campaign leader in Oregon said he hoped the endorsement would have some national impact.
Kulongoski is a two-term Democratic governor who has had political ties to the Clintons and to the former first lady going back at least to her donation to his first campaign for governor. He introduced her and praised her at a Portland event in 2006.
He said in a statement released by her campaign Thursday that she is best equipped among the Democratic Party's candidates to "repair the damage of the last seven years and repair our standing in the world."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Kulongoski said Clinton had shown support for issues important to working families. He cited even her failed attempt at health care reform during her husband's presidency.
"She tried very hard to bring health care to all Americans and I think that's a plus," Kulongoski said. "Did she fail, yes? Did she learn? You'd better believe it."
He said Clinton demonstrated as a senator that she could work with Republicans.
Josh Kardon, a top aide to Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden who worked on the governor's re-election campaign, steers Clinton's Oregon campaign.
He said Kulongoski's endorsement could have some weight nationally because of the governor's ties to veterans and organized labor and his stands on alternative energy and issues important to workers.
A Republican National Committee spokesman, Paul Lindsay, called the endorsement misguided, saying Clinton's spending proposals "would impose irreparable damage on Oregon's economy and be paid for on the backs of hardworking families in the state."
Modern presidential nominations usually are settled quickly, after a few primaries and caucuses. That has started a game of leapfrog among states contending for influence in the process.
In their session this year, Oregon Democratic lawmakers were eager to move the state's presidential primary election to February, leaving state issues to be settled on the usual date, May 20.
They were brought up short, though, by the estimated price of $3 million to hold the separate election, and the bill died.
Associated Press staffers Terry Petty, Typh Tucker and Brad Cain contributed to this report.
Oregon's Kulongoski endorses Clinton for president