Obama releases 'first wave' of 2018 endorsements, avoids major races

Obama releases 'first wave' of 2018 endorsements, avoids major races
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Former President Obama announced a slew of campaign endorsements on Wednesday, endorsing dozens of Democrats nationwide while keeping his distance from several high-profile battles.

The former president endorsed a list of 81 Democratic candidates running at nearly every level of government, including notable endorsements for California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Ohio's Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayThe road to the White House still goes through Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announces presidential run Sherrod Brown says he will not run for president MORE and Georgia's Stacey Abrams (D), who are all running for governor in their respective states.

The list only includes one endorsement for a Democratic Senate nominee, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Prosecutors used FISA warrant to get info on Huawei | Study finds discrimination in Facebook ads | Bezos retains voting control over ex-wife's Amazon stocks More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts Dem senators introduce bill to combat sexual harassment in STEM MORE (Nev.), who is running to replace Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (R-Nev.). No incumbents were included on the list, which and Obama spokesman said was mainly meant to boost challengers and newer candidates.

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Notable candidates not on the list include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), who gained a shocking primary victory over longtime Rep. Joseph Crowley (D) in New York and is favored to win the general election in November.

Also not on the list is Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeOvernight Defense: 2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran deal | Trump appeals ruling on male-only draft | Kudlow claims Iran sanctions won't hike oil prices Castro wants to follow Obama's lead on balancing presidency with fatherhood Poll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds MORE (D-Texas), who is running within 2 points of incumbent Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Liberal survey: Sanders cruising, Buttigieg rising MORE (R) in a recent poll of November's Senate race. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who faces a primary challenge from actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, was also not on the list.

Obama said in a statement that the chosen Democratic candidates would be called upon to restore America's standing around the world.

“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,” said the former president.

"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."

Democrats need to pick up 23 House seats and two Senate seats in November to retake both chambers of Congress. A recent poll showed Democrats with a 7-point edge over Republicans in a generic House ballot.