President Obama endorses in local state legislative races

The President has endorsed a few local legislative candidates, as part of a nationwide strategy to use Democratic momentum to boost local candidates

Don’t be surprised if you hear President Obama making robocalls to your home on behalf of local candidates this election season. The President has endorsed three Washington state legislative candidates, in an effort to help Democrats make gains down ballot.

The candidates include Lisa Wellman, who is challenging Republican Steve Litzow for his senate seat in the 41st legislative district that includes Mercer Island and Bellevue.

Wellman, a first time candidate, took the lead in the August primary by under 500 votes.

Democratic challengers in both state house races in legislative district 30 also received endorsements. Kristine Reeves is challenging Republican Teri Hickel elected to position two during a special election last year. Mike Pellicciotti is challenging Republican incumbent Linda Kochmar.

Both Reeves and Pellicciotti held slight leads in their respective races.

With two weeks until Election Day, President Obama recorded audio for the candidates to be used in robocalls or radio and digital ads.

An ad for Governor Inslee featuring the President also began airing this week. Mr. Obama fundraised for Inslee in Seattle earlier this year.

Mailers, social media posts and TV ads are also part of the strategy to take back seats in state legislatures nationwide during what Democrats hope could be a wave election year.  

Related: Obama endorses down the ballot

“Democrats are hoping their momentum that they currently have not only helps them in the presidential race, but helps in senate, house and state legislature races,” said NBC Senior Political Editor Mark Murray. “You don’t get these political environments every single year—you want to be able to seize at political winds when they’re at your back.”

The Washington State Republican Party says not so fast.

“The voters of our state can make our own decisions, without any advice from President Obama,” said Chairman Susan Hutchison.

“Steve Litzow and Teri Hickel should be honored that the State Democrats are so worried about the weakness of their own candidates that they've called on President Obama to help,” Hutchison wrote in a statement to KING 5. “Barack Obama doesn't even know the candidates he's endorsed.  If he did, he would know they are not qualified for their positions, and even the Seattle Times endorsed their Republican incumbents.”

The Times endorsed Litzow and Hickel, but endorsed Democrat Mike Pellicciotti in his race.

Currently, Republicans control the State Senate 26 to 23. Democrats control the House of Representatives 50 to 48.

Copyright 2016 KING


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