Oprah Obama (copy) (copy)

Then-Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama dances with his wife Michelle as Oprah Winfrey looks on during a campaign rally in 2007 at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. On Wednesday, the former president announced he was backing 81 Democrats in the 2018 midterms. Not one was from South Carolina. File/AP

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday endorsed 81 Democrats running in the November midterms, but none are in South Carolina.

In a statement, Obama described the first wave of candidates he was supporting as "diverse, patriotic and big-hearted."

Absent from the list were any of the multiple Democrats seeking office here, including James Smith for governor and Joe Cunningham for Charleston's seat in Congress.

Cunningham's campaign insists the omission from Obama was not a snub as he faces Republican Katie Arrington for the open coastal 1st District seat.

"The endorsements we're focused on are the ones in the district. We're not getting into hypotheticals," said Tyler Jones, spokesman and strategist for the Cunningham campaign.

When asked if Cunningham was actively pushing for an endorsement from the nation's 44th president, Jones said the campaign is not pursuing national endorsements.

Smith, who faces Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, does have the backing of Obama's former vice president, Joe Biden, but did not make the first round endorsement cut.

Smith told The Post and Courier in a statement he has not had any discussions with President Obama about endorsements.

"That’s not where our focus is. We haven’t been talking or thinking about endorsements from national figures, even one so eminent as President Obama," he said. "We are completely focused on South Carolina."

He went on to call Biden his mentor and noted that endorsement "arose from a long-standing personal relationship, not from any effort to round up big national endorsements."

Obama's endorsements waded into the political races in 14 states total, including three Southern states: Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.

He announced his first wave on Twitter, issuing a series of four lists that included races for governor, the House of Representatives, the Senate and state legislative seats. In a statement, Obama said he was "eager to make the case for why Democratic candidates deserve our votes this fall." He also noted plans to endorse a second round of candidates this fall, as well as campaign in several states before November.

The Obama no-listing for South Carolina comes as national Democrats say the 1st District is their best chance in the Palmetto State. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this month quietly added the race to its "Majority Makers" district list of GOP-held seats the group is targeting in the 2018 midterms.

Cunningham does have the endorsement of Martin O'Malley, the former Maryland governor who made a run for president in 2016. The Cunningham campaign said O'Malley pursued the endorsement of Cunningham, not the other way around.

Meanwhile, Arrington picked up national endorsements of her own this week.

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As first reported by McClatchy on Tuesday, President Donald Trump's re-election campaign will be giving money to more than 100 Republicans running for federal office. Arrington is not only among them but is the only one from the Palmetto State on the list.

A Democrat has not represented South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in nearly 40 years. To win back control of the House, Democrats need to win 23 congressional races in November.

Democratic congressional candidate Archie Parnell, who is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman in the state's 5th District, was not on the list either.

Though Parnell was first hailed as a promising candidate to flip the Republican-held district, both the South Carolina Democratic Party and national DCCC have since called for Parnell to drop out of the race after documents revealed he physically abused his ex-wife decades ago.

Obama, unlike Biden, has kept a relatively low political profile since leaving office. 

"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. But first, they need our votes," Obama's endorsement message said.

Biden did make a South Carolina endorsement this week, backing Dick Harpootlian's bid for a Columbia state Senate seat vacancy created by the resignation of Republican Statehouse corruption probe target John Courson.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.