Former President Barack Obama on Monday issued his first wave of 2020 down-ballot endorsements and backed more than 100 Democratic candidates with the goal of helping Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, win a majority of the Senate and win at the state level ahead of redistricting.
Obama endorsed 118 Democratic candidates from 17 states running for federal, statewide and state legislative offices. He endorsed 51 US House candidates, five US Senate candidates and more than 50 candidates for state legislative office.
“Our country’s future hangs on this election, and it won’t be easy. But pandemics have a way of cutting through a lot of noise and spin to remind us of what is real, and what is important,” Obama said in a statement. “Elections matter. And we need Americans of all political stripes to get involved in our politics and our public life like never before.”
After staying neutral in the primaries, Obama has been increasingly involved in the 2020 campaign. He has raised millions of dollars for Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive 2020 nominee, and appeared in recent campaign videos with his former vice president. Last week, Obama called for voting reform and pressed for voting rights while delivering a pointed eulogy for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
As Democrats look to take control of the Senate in November, Obama endorsed five Democrats looking to unseat Republican senators in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina and South Carolina. He endorsed former North Carolina state Sen. Cal Cunningham, Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, Iowa Democrat Theresa Greenfield, former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party Jaime Harrison and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Cunningham is challenging Sen. Thom Tillis, Gideon is looking to unseat Sen. Susan Collins, Greenfield is taking on Sen. Joni Ernst, Harrison is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham and Hickenlooper is looking to unseat Sen. Cory Gardner.
Obama endorsed many sitting members of Congress who first won their seats in the blue wave of the 2018 midterm elections, including New York Rep. Antonio Delgado, Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer, California Rep. Katie Porter, Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood, New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill and Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger. He also endorsed Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper — his only endorsements so far for governor and attorney general in 2020.
Obama also backed candidates running at the state level that the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is led by Obama’s former Attorney General Eric Holder, identified as essential to the upcoming redistricting process, according to a news release. The upcoming census, which occurs every 10 years, will determine how many representatives each state gets in Congress and how billions of dollars in federal funding gets spent.
“This fall is the last opportunity for voters to decide who will have a seat at the table when new maps are drawn in 2021 — maps that will be in place for the next decade. As the President has said, we need to end gerrymandering so voters can choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” the news release said.
Obama backed the most candidates in Texas, including 19 candidates for state legislative office. Both the Texas state House and state Senate are controlled by Republicans.
The former President also endorsed 10 Obama administration and campaign alumni, according to the news release.
“I’m proud to endorse this diverse and hopeful collection of thoughtful, empathetic, and highly qualified Democrats,” Obama said. “Together, these candidates will help us redeem our country’s promise by sticking up for working people, restoring fairness and opportunity to our system, and fighting for the good of all Americans — not just those at the top. They make me optimistic not just about our party’s chances in November, but about our country’s future long after that. So if you’re in one of their districts or states, make sure you vote for them this fall. And if you can, vote early — by mail or in person.”
He is expected to issue a second round of endorsements this fall after all states have completed their primaries, according to the news release.