Obama endorses Wesson, five other NC Dems
By Reggie Ponder
Saturday, August 4, 2018
First House District candidate Ron Wesson was one of six North Carolina Democrats to pick up an unexpected endorsement this week from perhaps their party’s biggest star: former President Barack Obama.
Obama, who left office in 2017, in fact announced his endorsement of 38 Democrats in legislative races around the country in this fall’s mid-term election. Besides the six endorsements in North Carolina, the former president endorsed Democrats in nine legislative races in Ohio, eight in Colorado, four in Iowa, three in both Maine and Pennsylvania, two in both New Mexico and Georgia and one in New York.
Wesson, a Bertie County commissioner who faces Chowan Republican Eddy Goodwin in North Carolina’s 1st District, said the endorsement from the former president wasn’t something he sought or expected to have — but he’s absolutely excited about it.
“I have always been a supporter of the Democratic Party and of President Obama in particular,” Wesson said. “I respect his presidency. I am delighted by this endorsement.”
Wesson said he didn’t think Obama’s endorsement was based on any one issue or even on a small group of issues.
“I think it was probably just a general perception of the campaign and of the candidates,” Wesson said. “He chose the candidates that he thought mirrored his positions on many of the issues.”
Wesson said his positions on education, health care, economic development and infrastructure development are probably among the specific issues that factored into the endorsement.
“I think those things were very much in sync with (Obama’s) positions and with the positions of the Democratic Party,” Wesson said.
Wesson also believes his background in business and in public service was a factor in the endorsement.
“I think it was especially my service in the district as a county commissioner,” Wesson said.
For his part, Goodwin said it was “surprising” and even “shocking” to him that a former president decided to make an endorsement in the 1st House District race.
“You usually don’t see that, where a former president steps down and gets into endorsing candidates at the level of a General Assembly,” Goodwin said. “But that’s his prerogative. He can do whatever he pleases.”
Goodwin said he doesn’t expect Obama’s endorsement of Wesson will make a difference in the outcome of the race.
“I don’t know whether it will make that much of a difference,” Goodwin said. “It’s not going to change the way I’m campaigning at all. In my personal opinion I don’t think that it will help him that much. The jury is out and in the first part of November we’ll know.”
According to a press release, Obama said the candidates he is endorsing will not only be good for their states but also for the country.
“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 said. “But first, they need our votes.”
Obama’s decision to endorse Democrats in legislative races is part of an overall strategy by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee to make substantial gains in statehouses nationwide in the mid-term election. Republicans currently control a majority of those statehouses, including in North Carolina.