Obama Releases First Set of Midterm Election Endorsements, Does Not Endorse Ocasio-Cortez

Barack Obama
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Former President Barack Obama announced his endorsement Wednesday of dozens of Democratic candidates running for office in the November 2018 midterms.

A statement released by the former president's office said Obama will strive to help the Democratic Party retake control of the House of Representatives and increase the number of Democratic senators.

"I’m 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," Obama said. He expressed confidence the candidates he endorsed will "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."

The list of candidates endorsed by Obama includes prospective Democratic lawmakers from 14 states. Although the list contains two candidates from New York, the president did not endorse congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or any Democrat in the state’s gubernatorial primary, which pits Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) against actress and progressive activist Cynthia Nixon.

Ocasio-Cortez, who upset the head of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joe Crowley, in a June primary, has drawn the ire of some Democrats in the House. She accused Crowley of mounting a third-party challenge, which he denies, prompting Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) to warn "she ain’t gonna make friends that way."

"Joe conceded, wished her well, said he would support her … so she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about," Pascrell said.

Ocasio-Cortez has also stumbled in interviews, conceding she is "not an expert" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and claiming the unemployment rate was low "because everyone has two jobs."

Cuomo holds a large lead over his Democratic rival Nixon in the state’s Democratic primary. The governor has been endorsed by the New York Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.

Obama only endorsed one Democratic Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen (Nev.), who is running against Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. He did not endorse any Democratic Senate incumbents facing tough reelection battles, such as Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), or Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.).

"No one's more to blame for how weak today's Democratic Party is than President Obama. He cost them over 1,000 legislative seats, decimated their state parties and voters rejected his policies at the ballot box less than two years ago," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said.

Obama’s office stated he will "issue a second round of endorsements in advance of Nov. 6."

Update: Post was updated to include comment from the RNC.