AUGUSTA — Former President Barack Obama endorsed three Democrats running for the Maine Senate in a tweet Wednesday that included dozens of other endorsements of candidates around the country.

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

The tweet included a list of 81 Democratic candidates for state and federal office. It was described as the “first wave of 2018 midterm endorsements.”

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

Luchini is a state representative from Ellsworth 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.

Obama’s endorsements did not include Maine Democrats running for Congress or governor.

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

Obama’s tweet did not mention Jared Golden, a state representative from Lewiston who is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat; Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, the party’s candidate for governor; or Zak Ringelstein, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Those omissions prompted Maine Republicans to criticize Obama and those 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 re-election in the 2nd District and Brakey is trying to unseat Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

Glynn also noted that the former president has said he will release a second wave of endorsements and campaign for Democratic candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 elections.

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.

“As a former state legislator himself,” Sanborn said, “President Obama recognizes the importance of electing strong leaders at the state level.”

In a tweet Wednesday, former President Barack Obama endorsed three Democrats — Louis Luchini, Linda Sanborn and Laura Fortman — who are running for the Maine Senate. (AP file photo)

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