The relatively early endorsement of California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for gubernatorial candidate state Treasurer John Chiang is important for a number of reasons.

A prominent Latino leader endorsing Chiang shows that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a previous Assembly Speaker himself, can’t be seen as the candidate that Latino voters and leadership will coalesce around.

The endorsement could awaken donors outside of Chiang’s circle to the viability of his candidacy.

In Chiang’s short email to supporters announcing Rendon’s endorsement, the word “progressive” was used three times. Chiang, known for his fiscal management, wants to emphasize his progressive credentials to California’s decidedly leftward Democratic voters. Key Democratic rival in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, has moved his campaign left and Rendon’s endorsement for Chiang helps balance that move.

Rendon’s endorsement could open the gates for other leading Democrats to get behind a candidate of their choice early instead of waiting to see how the race shapes up over the next year.

Many in the business community are focusing attention on the race, determining which candidate may be the safest bet for business in an open governor’s race. Endorsements will be used as yardsticks in weighing whom business might support. As I wrote last year, business likely will involve itself in the June primary race to advocate for a candidate, or oppose a candidate they don’t want to succeed. Endorsements will go into those calculations.