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Obama backs 118 Democrats in 'first wave' of endorsements

Former President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Party campaign rally in Chicago, Ill., on November 4, 2018. Monday, he endorsed&nbsp;118 candidates for public office in the 2020 election.&nbsp;File Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/f7406b336179ad277bbdbb000cac6c9f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Party campaign rally in Chicago, Ill., on November 4, 2018. Monday, he endorsed 118 candidates for public office in the 2020 election. File Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Former President Barack Obama released a first round of electoral endorsements on Monday, which include numerous candidates for federal office.

Obama posted the list, titled "First Wave of 2020 Endorsements," to his Medium page. They include 118 candidates -- 51 running for the U.S. House, five for U.S. Senate and dozens in state races.

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The former president's list is part of a broader effort by the Democratic Party to strengthen its grip on the House and flip the Senate from Republican control.

"I'm proud to endorse this diverse and hopeful collection of thoughtful, empathetic, and highly qualified Democrats," Obama wrote. "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."

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Four Senate candidates that won endorsement from Obama are involved in contests that are considered toss-up races -- Cal Cunningham over Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Theresa Greenfield over Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Sara Gideon over Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper over Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

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Obama also endorsed Jaime Harrison, associate chair of the Democratic Party, over GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.

"They make me optimistic not just about our party's chances in November, but about our country's future long after that," the 44th U.S. president added. "So if you're in one of their districts or states, make sure you vote for them this fall. And if you can, vote early -- by mail or in person."

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