Boucher Will Endorse Obama Today
U.S. Rep Rick Boucher, a popular Democrat who represents Virginia's coal country, will announce this afternoon that he is endorsing Barack Obama's presidential bid, according to the Obama campaign.
The campaign has scheduled a 1 p.m. conference call with reporters to announce the endorsement. Boucher refused to comment yesterday, but said he would "talk about the presidential campaign" during a conference call today.
Boucher's support could give Obama a bit of a boost heading into Virginia's Feb. 12 primary. The 9th congressional district still represents an important source of Democratic votes, although it has been trending Republican because of the region's cultural conservatism.
Boucher, a moderate who is in 13th term in Congress, maintains a significant political organization in Southwest Virginia. In 2006, he was reelected with 68 percent of the vote, even as the district was supporting Republican George Allen over James Webb (D) in the U.S. Senate race.
The 9th congressional district spans all or part of 22 counties, including heavily-unionized areas near the Kentucky border and Republican-leaning communities in southern Virginia.
Until now, it was widely believed that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had an advantage in Southwest Virginia because he has been endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America.
But Boucher is the latest in a series of elected officials in Virginia to get behind Obama's candidacy.
Last year, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) became one of the first governors in the country to endorse Obama. Kaine now serves as one of Obama's cochairman.
Last month, Virginia's only black congressman, Robert C. Scott (D-Va.), endorsed Obama. Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (D), who in 1990 became the nation's first elected black governor, endorsed Obama three weeks ago.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) has yet to snag a big-name supporter among Virginia elected officials; Sen. James Webb (D), U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D) and former governor Mark R. Warner are so far neutral.
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, Kaine said Obama has an appeal that transcends racial and geographic lines and is the Democrat "most likely to win in November."
"He would have the ability to get folks to come and pull a lever for a Democratic candidate that, maybe, in past years, weren't been willing to do so," Kaine said.
January 21, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/President , Tim Craig
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