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Former President Obama Endorses 81 Candidates For Midterms

Former President Barack Obama speaks during his town hall for the Obama Foundation at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, last month.
Themba Hadebe
Former President Barack Obama speaks during his town hall for the Obama Foundation at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, last month.

Former President Barack Obama weighed in on behalf of 81 candidates for federal and state offices on Wednesday, his first major batch of endorsements for the 2018 midterm elections.

"I'm proud to endorse such a wide and impressive array of Democratic candidates – leaders as diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they're running to represent," Obama said in a statement.

"I'm confident that, together, they'll strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity that's broadly shared, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law. But first, they need our votes — and I'm eager to make the case for why Democratic candidates deserve our votes this fall."

All of Obama's endorsements Wednesday come in states that have already held their primaries, so he is not wading into any intraparty contests. But earlier this year in California's Senate race, he endorsed Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who faces a challenge from the more progressive former state Senate President Kevin de León because of the state's top-two ballot system.

The former president has kept a low profile so far on the campaign trail, only appearing at closed political events, such as fundraisers. But with the announcement of this round of endorsements, Obama says he plans to campaign in several states ahead of November. He'll also continue his work with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee led by his former attorney general Eric Holder.

The former president did signal there will be more endorsements.

Obama's endorsements include Democrats running for the U.S. House and Senate, governor and other Cabinet positions, as well as state legislatures. The only Senate race he has endorsed is in Nevada, where Rep. Jacky Rosen will face GOP Sen. Dean Heller in the Democrats' top pickup opportunity. In this announcement, Obama didn't endorse any incumbent senators fighting for re-election though. He did throw his weight behind Stacey Abrams in Georgia, who could become the first black woman ever elected as governor if she wins.

Obama also endorsed several congressional candidates in races critical to Democratic hopes of taking back the House in places like California, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.