Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has a new pick in the presidential race, a little more than two months from California’s primary.

Garcia announced early Thursday, Jan. 9, that he backs former Vice President Joe Biden in his campaign for the White House.

The endorsement came ahead of Biden’s planned trip to Long Beach on Thursday afternoon, where he was set to visit the Port of Long Beach and tour the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project alongside Garcia.

“We are very grateful to have Vice President Biden here in Long Beach,” Garcia said in an interview. “This is a big visit and a big deal. We are excited that he is committed to issues around trade and that he understands the impact of our port and our city to the country and the world.”

Long Beach is home to the second largest port in the nation, behind only the neighboring Port of Los Angeles. The Port of Long Beach, according to its own data, handles more than $194 billion worth of cargo annually and one out of every five containers traveling through U.S. ports. And 2.6 million jobs nationwide, the port says, are related to “Long Beach-generated trade.”

But over the last year-and-a-half, the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have grappled with the fallout of the U.S.-China trade war. Since July 2018, the United States has imposed tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports and the Asian economic power has retaliated with taxes on $110 billion of U.S. goods.

Biden, for his part, sparred with his successor, Vice President Mike Pence, over the current White House’s trade policy in October, blasting what Biden called “Trump’s irresponsible trade wars.”

Garcia touted Biden’s ability to help the local economy.

“He is going to be a great partner,” Garcia added, “in ensuring the economy of Long Beach grows and stays strong.”

Garcia also said Biden’s “focus on rebuilding the middle class” would resonate in Long Beach.

Biden’s longtime support for marginalized communities, Garcia added, was also a factor in his endorsement decision.

“Vice President Biden has always been a champion for the LGBTQ community,” he said. “In fact, he was the person that actually nudged a lot of our leaders — including President Obama at the time — to support marriage equality.”

Garcia previously backed Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, in her White House bid. Harris ended her campaign last month.

The mayor said he continues “to be a strong supporter of all her work,” but he was proud now to back Biden’s candidacy.

“This is about winning and beating (President) Donald Trump in November, and restoring American values and restoring a sense of hope and support for all people,” Garcia said. “I think that Vice President Biden is well-equipped and ready to do that.”

California’s presidential primary is set for March 3, on Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states will also go to the polls.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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