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Obama endorses 2 candidates trying to flip West Michigan districts

Former President Barack Obama issued a round of endorsements Friday, including two West Michigan Democratic congressional candidates.
Credit: AP
Former U.S. President Barack Obama during a plenary session of the Gathering of Rising Leaders in the Asia Pacific, organized by the Obama Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Former President Barack Obama published a list of endorsements for Democratic candidates competing in congressional races this November. 

Included on that list were several Michigan candidates, including two in West Michigan who are trying to flip Republican districts. Obama endorsed Hillary Scholten for the 3rd Congressional District and State Rep. Jon Hoadley for the 6th Congressional District. 

Scholten is campaigning to fill the vacancy that will be left by Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Township). She is a Grand Rapids-based civil rights attorney who formerly worked in the Department of Justice during Obama's administration. 

The Grand Rapids region, which is the biggest city in the 3rd District, has not been represented by a Democrat since the 1970s. Amash has held the seat since 2011. 

While the district, also including Ionia, Barry and Calhoun counties, has been solidly red for decades, Democrats are hoping Scholten can change the tide. In 2018, Republican candidate for governor Bill Schuette carried the district by only 1%. An internal poll from Scholten's campaign released this week showed 44% of likely voters backing her and 42% saying they would vote for Meijer; 14% remained undecided, according to The Hill

Scholten has made her Christian faith a focal point of her campaign. She has picked up other big endorsements in recent weeks, including presidential candidate Joe Biden and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

She tweeted about Obama's endorsement Friday morning, saying she is "honored" to receive it. 

RELATED: Voter Guide 2020: What you need to know about the election in Michigan

Obama also endorsed Hoadley, a democratic state representative who is running to unseat Republican Rep. Fred Upton. At 37, he has served three terms in the Michigan House. 

The 6th District encompasses southwestern Michigan, including the city of Kalamazoo. The district voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but flipped to President Donald Trump in 2016. 

Upton has held this seat since 1987. In his latest re-election, Upton won by the smallest margin in his career against democratic candidate Matt Longjohn. The 2018 win was secured by 50.2 to 45.7 percent. 

Also on the ballot in this district, Jeff DePoy is running as a Libertarian and John Lawrence is running for the Green Party. 

Hoadley called Obama's endorsement "GREAT news."

In Obama's statement, he said: "I'm proud to endorse these outstanding Democratic candidates who will work to get the virus under control, rebuild the economy and the middle class, and protect Americans' health care and preexisting conditions protections."

He also endorsed Sen. Gary Peters, a first-term senator competing against John James, as well as two others running for re-election for the U.S. House of Representatives and eight running for seats in the state House. 

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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