U.S. Rep. Jared Golden is endorsing Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet for president, an underdog candidate who is not on the ballot for the Democratic primary in Maine.

“While many candidates blame the current president for our broken politics, Michael Bennet honestly identifies the challenges facing our democracy as decades old and going nowhere unless we commit to revitalize the good in our democracy and reform the worst,” Golden said in a statement Thursday.

Michael Bennet

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., speaks in November 2019 during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party, in Las Vegas. AP file photo

The endorsement was first reported by Politico.

Golden, a first-term congressman who is up for reelection this fall, said in the statement that he is supporting Bennet because he is “committed to fighting corruption and putting an end to an era dominated by big money in politics.”

“Most importantly, after years of divisive leadership from Washington, Michael Bennet is committed to leading this country by example toward a more unified and thoughtful future,” he said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee criticized Golden for the endorsement, with spokesman Michael McAdams saying in a statement, “Jared Golden’s endorsement of Michael Bennet makes it clear he supports giving illegal immigrants free health care at the expense of Maine voters, and in a district Trump won by 10 that’s a big problem.”

Bennet appeared with nine other Democratic presidential candidates at a July 2019 debate and expressed support for allowing undocumented immigrants to have access to government-funded health care programs. In his response to a June 2019 health care policy survey by the New York Times, Bennet said undocumented immigrants should be able to purchase insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Presidential candidates in Maine were required to submit at least 2,000 signatures of registered voters enrolled in their party to the secretary of state by Dec. 23 in order to appear on the March primary ballot. Bennet is not among the 12 candidates who qualified.

In a tweet Thursday, he thanked Golden for the support saying, “Grateful to have the endorsement of (Golden) – a frontline House member who knows what it takes to win in an Obama-Trump district.”

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