Obama backs old ally in St. Petersburg race

Obama backs old ally in St. Petersburg race
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Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Republicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate MORE is stepping back into the spotlight this month, using his political clout to endorse a former ally in a Florida mayoral race.

Obama on Thursday endorsed St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in Tuesday's primary election, hoping to give the Florida Democrat a major boost in an uphill reelection bid that is endangered by a strong GOP candidate.

In a draft statement of the endorsement obtained by Politico, Obama lauds Kriseman as the "only choice for continued progress in St. Petersburg."

“From raising the minimum wage and fighting for equality, to bold leadership on climate change, Rick was a great ally on the priorities of my administration. I strongly endorse Rick Kriseman as the only choice for continued progress for St. Petersburg,” Obama wrote.


Obama's endorsement is meant to shore up Kriseman's poll numbers among African-Americans, where he has been losing support. An internal document obtained by Politico and created by the state's Democratic Party said that many blacks in the city feel Kriseman's administration had "ignored" them for years.

"Many problems in the African-American community remain," the memo reads. "Some feel that Mayor Kriseman ignored this community during his term and the sewage issue was the last straw. In addition, Kriseman’s administration has not done the best job to amplify ways that he’s helped the African-American community."

Kriseman, an early endorser of Obama in 2008, is running against Rick Baker, a former mayor of the city who served as a campaign surrogate for Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Arizona Dems hope higher Latino turnout will help turn the state blue McConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms MORE (R-Ariz.) in his unsuccessful presidential bid against Obama in 2008.

Polls show Baker is close to 50 percent support, according to Politico, which would propel him to victory in Tuesday's primary election and eliminate the November runoff. If no candidate reaches more than 50 percent in the primary, then there would be a runoff election.

Obama hopes to save his old political ally from a tough defeat by forcing the runoff election with the support from his endorsement.

“The reality is Obama is popular in this district and Trump is toxic,” one Florida Democrat told Politico. “All we have to do is get this to a runoff. We need this win.”