Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements

Former President Obama announced his first batch of 2020 endorsements on Monday, giving support to Democrats looking to defend or flip seats in multiple tight races.

“I’m proud to endorse this diverse and hopeful collection of thoughtful, empathetic, and highly qualified Democrats. Together, these candidates will help us redeem our country’s promise by sticking up for working class people, restoring fairness and opportunity to our system, and fighting for the good of all Americans — not just those at the top,” Obama said in an announcement published on Medium

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He also urged Americans, if possible, to vote early, either by mail or in-person.

Obama endorsed a range of Democrats seeking both federal and state-level offices, including candidates in four of the tightest Senate races for seats held by Republicans. 

He backed Cal Cunningham, the Democrat facing North Carolina Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNetflix distances from author's comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project Overnight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE (R); Theresa Greenfield, who is seeking to unseat Iowa Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOn The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami Tillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll The power of incumbency: How Trump is using the Oval Office to win reelection MORE (R); Sara Gideon, who is running a close race against Maine Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election Democratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Poll: 57 percent of Americans think next president, Senate should fill Ginsburg vacancy MORE (R); and John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Cook Political Report shifts Colorado Senate race toward Democrat Willie Nelson playing at virtual fundraiser for Hickenlooper MORE, the former Democratic Colorado governor challenging Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerBreaking the Chinese space addiction Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error Billionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden MORE (R). The four races are the six Senate ones rated as a “toss-up” by the Cook Political Report. 

Obama also endorsed Jaime Harrison, a Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHarris slams Trump's Supreme Court pick as an attempt to 'destroy the Affordable Care Act' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Confirmation hearing for Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12 MORE (R-S.C.).

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Harrison said he is honored to receive Obama's endorsement and will “continue to fight to restore hope to South Carolinians in the midst of this pandemic." 

Obama’s first wave of endorsements also includes support for candidates seeking reelection in some of the tightest House races after flipping seats in the 2018 midterms, such as Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodHillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerCentrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote Trump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts MORE (D-Iowa). 

He’s also backing California Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who is running in the 25th Congressional District after losing a special election to Republican Mike Garcia in May to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillObama counsels NBA players on forming a social justice committee Republicans cast Trump as best choice for women House GOP campaign chairman insists party will win back majority MORE. Smith is looking to flip the seat back for Democrats. It was held by Republicans before Hill flipped it in 2018. 

Obama also backed Jamaal Bowman, a former middle school principal who defeated longtime Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse panel halts contempt proceedings against Pompeo after documents turned over Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep MORE (D-N.Y) in a House primary earlier this summer.