Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced his first wave of endorsements for Democratic candidates vying for elected positions up and down the ballot this November.
Obama endorsed 81 people for this first wave and is expected to endorse more ahead of the midterm elections. His office said Wednesday that the former president is also expected to campaign in several states for 2018 candidates.
His endorsement list includes several people in high-profile races, including Gavin Newsom for governor of California, Stacey Abrams for governor of Georgia and Jacky Rosen for US Senate in Nevada.
Former Obama administration officials and campaign alumni were among those who snagged Obama’s backing. They include Colin Allred, Andrew Kim, Tom Malinowski, Lauren Underwood, Richard Cordray and Jill Schiller.
Obama said in a statement that he is “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.”
“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,” he continued.
The 2018 midterms, now less than 100 days away, are largely seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s first two years in office.
Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to wrest control of the House from Republicans. They need a net gain of two seats to take a Senate majority, although the path to get to that number is difficult.
The endorsements add to other recent post-presidential efforts by Obama to shape the political landscape.
CNN previously reported that Obama endorsed California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein in May, his first Senate endorsement of 2018.
One of his main focuses has been working with and fundraising for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an organization aimed at battling partisan redistricting that’s chaired by his former attorney general, Eric Holder.
Obama’s office pointed out in a news release that the former president also had campaigned and endorsed candidates in 2017. And he held fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
CNN’s Dan Merica and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.