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Barack Obama just issued his first 2018 endorsements

They weren’t what you would expect.

Former President Barack Obama speaks to a gathering of more than 50 mayors and other guests during the North American Climate Summit on December 5, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama took some of his first steps into the 2018 midterm elections with Wednesday’s announcement of the first wave of Democratic candidates he’s endorsing for November.

Obama in a series of tweets listed candidates in more than a dozen states he’s backing in 2018. “Today, 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,” he wrote.

“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 continued. “But first, they need our votes.”

The list includes gubernatorial candidates Gavin Newsom in California, Jared Polis in Colorado, Stacey Abrams in Georgia, J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, and Richard Cordray in Ohio. Obama endorsed multiple House candidates, including Katie Porter and Harley Rouda in California and Sean Casten and Brendan Kelly in Illinois, and a US Senate candidate in Nevada, Jacky Rosen.

Obama is backing a number of candidates in state-level races — but he left out some stars, such as Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke in Texas.

Obama’s been creeping back into the spotlight

President Obama has largely laid low since leaving the White House, though he’s slowly been moving back into the public sphere.

In July, he delivered his first major address since leaving office in a speech in South Africa, where he warned of the dangers of “strongman politics” and made many not-so-subtle references to his successor, Donald Trump, without actually naming him.

“We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders, where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more,” he said. “Look, let me say: Politicians have always lied, but it used to be that if you caught them lying, they’d be like, ‘Ah, man.’”

Last fall, his Obama Foundation hosted its inaugural summit in Chicago. He has also hosted private fundraisers, campaigned for Democrats such as Ralph Northam in Virginia, and hit the speaking circuit. The former president is expected to hit the campaign trail later this year.