AUGUSTA – Former President Barack Obama endorsed three Democratic candidates running for the Maine Senate in a tweet Wednesday.

Making Obama’s first round of endorsements for the 2018 election were Louis Luchini, Linda Sanborn and Laura Fortman.

Obama’s tweet included a list of 81 Democratic candidates around the country receiving his endorsement. The list was described as the “first wave of 2018 midterm endorsements.”

Candidates at both the state and federal levels from California to Texas to Maine received the social media pat on the back from the former president.

“I’m confident that, together, they’ll strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law,” Obama tweeted following the endorsement. “But first, they need our votes.”

Among the Maine candidates endorsed, Luchini is a state representative from Ellsworth who is running against Republican Rep. Richard Malaby of Hancock for the Senate District 7 seat, now held by Brian Langeley R-Ellsworth, who is term limited. Sanborn, a former state representative from Gorham, is challenging incumbent state Sen. Amy Volk, a Scarborough Republican, for the Senate District 30 seat. Fortman, of Nobleboro, is challenging incumbent state Sen. Dana Dow, a Republican from Waldoboro, in the Senate District 13 race.

The endorsements did not include Democratic candidates for Congress or governor in Maine.

In 2014, Obama stumped for former 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud, who was running for governor. Michaud lost to incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Obama’s tweet did not mention the Democratic nominee in the 2nd District, Jared Golden, a state representative from Lewiston; the party’s candidate for governor, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills; or its U.S. Senate candidate, Zak Ringelstein. Those omissions opened the door for Maine Republicans to criticize Obama and the candidates.

“The lack of interest that the National Democratic Party is showing in Maine’s statewide and Congressional races is not surprising to us,” said Nina McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for the Maine Republican Party. “Janet Mills, Jared Golden, and Zak Ringelstein are low energy candidates, and in Ringelstein’s case, who don’t even have the support of the state party. We will be interested to see if former President Obama eventually endorses Mills, Golden, or Ringelstein, but we won’t hold our breath. This is just an attempt by a former President to stay relevant to a party that he helped destroy.”

The Maine Democratic Party fired back.

“If the Maine Republican Party wants to have a conversation about endorsements, then we really look forward to seeing if their candidates – Shawn Moody, Bruce Poliquin, and Eric Brakey – are willing to wrap their arms around President Trump and accept his endorsement,” said Chris Glynn, a spokesman for the Maine Democratic Party.

Moody is the Republican’s candidate for governor. Poliquin is seeking reelection the 2nd District and Brakey is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

Glynn also pointed to an Obama press release noting the former President has said he intends to release a second wave of endorsements and will campaign for Democratic candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 elections.

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Luchini, one of the Maine Democrats endorsed by Obama, said the support was welcome.

“I’m certainly honored and humbled to receive an endorsement from President Obama,” Luchini wrote in an email. “Given the gridlock in D.C., I think there’s a heightened importance and focus being placed on electing strong leaders at the state level.”

Sanborn also said she was honored by the endorsement. “As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the importance of electing strong leaders at the state level,” Sanborn said in a written statement.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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