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Sanders’ First Congressional Backer Flips to Clinton

Rep. Raul Grijalva, the first member of Congress to endorse Bernie Sanders, has announced his support for Hillary Clinton.

"Hillary Clinton has the capacity and the instincts needed to carry forward what has been started," Grijalva said Thursday. "I support her and will do what I can to help ensure her victory."

In a lengthy statement, Grijalva, a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who became a vocal Sanders surrogate, said the Democratic Party needed to come together.

"With voting completed in the final Democratic Primary, it is now time for the Democratic Party to unify. For all of us who supported Bernie from the beginning," he continued, "the most important thing now is to beat Donald Trump in November."

Related: Clinton Begins Battleground Ad Blitz

But the Arizona congressman also expressed some of the stridency characteristic of the Sanders campaign, knocking pundits for discounting the insisting Clinton embrace the movement's goals.

"I firmly believe that her victory will only come when she and the Democratic Party articulate the themes this movement has so powerfully expressed," Grijalva said.

Sanders is expected to address supporters in a teleconference Thursday evening on the future of his candidacy. Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination last week, but Sanders has yet to concede.

In the meantime, several of Sanders allies have gotten ahead of him on the road to unity. MoveOn.org came out for Clinton Wednesday, as did and several unions that supported Sanders.

Sen. Jeff Merekly, Sanders' only backer in the Senate, essentially did the same when he said he would support Clinton because she is the party's nominee.

Related: Major Labor Group to Endorse Clinton

Sanders never attracted much support from Congress, with fewer than 10 endorsing him.

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee have begun to effectively merge.

On Thursday, Clinton's team sent Brandon Davis, the political director of the Service Employees International Union, to be the committee's chief of staff.

When nominees move into a party, "They really take over," Ed Rendell told MSNBC of how these transitions typically work. "And you know, as DNC chair, that you are now working for the campaign," the former DNC chairman said.

Clinton also locked down the endorsement of the AFL-CIO earlier in the day.