Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser Endorsed by Obama

The president is helping out an old friend in his Massachusetts race.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, April 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Endorsements don’t get much bigger than this, and for a state Senate position, no less. President Barack Obama this week is throwing his support behind state Sen. Eric Lesser’s bid to retain his seat representing the First Hampden and Hampshire district.

Lesser, a Democrat, was an aide for Obama during the 2008 campaign who went on to advise the president during his first term. His challenger is Republican James “Chip” Harrington.

“I’ve known Eric for many years, and have seen his incredible work ethic, intellect, and commitment to public service up close. From new job training, to new laws combating substance abuse, to new efforts to invest in high speed rail, Eric is serving Western Massachusetts with distinction,” Obama said in a statement reported by MassLive. “As his former boss, I’m proud of the work Eric has done, which is why I’m honored to endorse him for a second term.”

Obama and Lesser go way back. Ever since then-candidate Obama celebrated Passover with his campaign staff, it’s been a new tradition to do so at the annual White House Seder. Lesser usually brings boxes of matzo. Last year, White House chefs made carrot soufflé using Lesser’s mom’s recipe.

Obama, whose approval rating is climbing in his final weeks in office, has been campaigning for down-ballot Democrats around the country, involving himself in some 150 races in 20 states.

Harrington, meanwhile, has support from Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican whose appeal with voters made him—until recently—the most popular governor in the country.

“I’m with Chip because of his strong commitment to public service,” Baker says in an ad for the candidate.