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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 TillisDemocrats see Georgia as model for success across South McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 MORE (R); Theresa Greenfield, who is seeking to unseat Iowa Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Military survivors of child sex abuse deserve more MORE (R); Sara Gideon, who is running a close race against Maine Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R); and John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Democrats frustrated, GOP jubilant in Senate fight Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night MORE, the former Democratic Colorado governor challenging Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs denounce Capitol attack | Contractors halt donations after siege | 'QAnon Shaman' at Capitol is Navy vet Lobbying world Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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 GrahamSenate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen GOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article 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 UnderwoodNew coalition aims to combat growing wave of ransomware attacks Lawmakers call for lowering health care costs to address disparities in pandemic Overnight Health Care: First signs of Thanksgiving wave emerge | FDA says Pfizer vaccine is highly effective, even after first dose | Biden aims for 100 million vaccinations in first hundred days MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerChamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year 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 HillObamas to attend Biden inauguration Trump pardons George Papadopoulos in latest batch of pardons Former Rep. Katie Hill files lawsuit against ex-husband, Daily Mail over nude photos 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 EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y) in a House primary earlier this summer.