Roughly a year and a half after leaving office, former President Barack Obama is back on the national stage campaigning for top Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterm elections — including several running for office in the Nutmeg state.
Obama endorsed 14 Connecticut Democratic candidates in his second wave of midterm endorsements on Oct. 1, including the team on the top of the ticket: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont SOM ’80 and lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Susan Bysiewicz ’83.
The list continues. Obama also threw support behind state Senate candidates Christine Cohen in Branford, Mary Abrams in Meriden, James Maroney in Milford and Jorge Cabrera in Hamden, as well as House candidates Kara Rochelle in Derby and Matt Blumenthal — the son of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. — in Stamford.
“Today, I’m proud to endorse even more Democratic candidates who aren’t just running against something, but for something — to expand opportunity for all of us and to restore dignity, honor and compassion to public service,” Obama tweeted Monday afternoon. “They deserve your vote.”
The tweet included 260 endorsements for candidates running in 29 states. The first round of Obama’s endorsements was released on Aug. 1 and included 81 Democratic candidates, none of whom are from Connecticut.
Obama’s support for Lamont is a change from 2006, when the then-senator from Illinois spoke at a fundraising dinner in Hartford to endorse 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 over Lamont in the 2006 campaign for a Connecticut U.S. Senate seat. Lamont went on to win the Democratic primary but lost to Lieberman in the general election after the latter ran as an independent petitioning candidate.
“If elected, Ned will do what he’s done his whole life to turn the state around and ensure a more hopeful future: he’ll protect working families, improve Connecticut’s business climate, and refuse to back down from making the tough choices,” Obama said in an endorsement statement released by the Lamont campaign on Monday.
Lamont has received endorsements from many Democratic politicians thus far, including Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Blumenthal, State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Elm City Mayor Toni Harp.
The statement released through Lamont’s office highlighted the similarities between Lamont’s proposed policies and Obama’s policies while he was in office. According to his campaign website, Lamont’s top priorities as a gubernatorial candidate include reducing property taxes for the middle class, combating the opioid epidemic, expanding renewable energy and preventing gun violence.
In his own statement, Lamont said Obama “represents the very best of America,” asserting that he will fight for Obama’s ideals, including lowering the burden on the middle class, increasing access to healthcare, standing up for women and creating jobs.
But Lamont is not the only candidate for governor with presidential support. President Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement of Republican nominee Bob Stefanowski on Aug. 15.
“It is about time that Connecticut had a real and talented Governor. Bob Stefanowski is the person needed to do the job,” Trump tweeted. “Bob has my total Endorsement!”
According to a Sacred Heart University poll conducted in late September, Lamont currently leads Stefanowski by about 6.2 percentage points. A Quinnipiac poll from the same week estimates Lamont’s lead at around 13 percentage points.
In a post on Facebook announcing his second wave of endorsements, Obama addressed the importance of voting, especially given the country’s current political climate.
“If you don’t like what’s going on right now, don’t boo. Vote,” Obama wrote in his post. “Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before.”
In the last two gubernatorial elections, Obama campaigned for current Gov. Dannel Malloy. Amid a stagnant state economy, a record-setting budget crisis and one of the lowest gubernatorial approval ratings in the country, Malloy announced he would not seek reelection in April 2017, thus starting one of the biggest toss-up races in the country.
The Connecticut Association of Broadcasters will host the next gubernatorial debate on Oct. 18.
Nathalie Bussemaker | firstname.lastname@example.org