Obama endorses Gillum and Nelson but snubs Shalala

Former president calls gubernatorial hopeful a 'proven fighter'


MIAMI – Former President Barack Obama endorsed more a dozen Florida Democrats running for office Monday, including gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson.

Obama's endorsement builds more momentum for Gillum, who is leading his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, in the polls and could become Florida's first black governor. Other Democratic Party heavyweights, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, plan to campaign for Gillum in the coming weeks.

"Andrew is a proven fighter with the courage and determination to stand up for Florida families," Obama said in a statement.

However, Obama did not endorse former University of Miami President Donna Shalala, who is running to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida's 27th Congressional District. Once thought as a shoo-in, Shalala is struggling against former television journalist Maria Elvira Salazar. The influential Cook Political Report recently called the race a toss-up.

Attorney Mary Barzee Flores, who is running to unseat Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart in Florida's 25th Congressional District also failed to make the cut. Meanwhile, Obama did put his name behind Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is running to unseat Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida's 26th Congressional District.

This is the second wave of endorsements for Obama. In August, he singled out 81 candidates in 13 states, including California, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Watch Andrew Gillum on This Week in South Florida: