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President Obama endorses SF school board candidate

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Board of Education President Matt Haney. (S.F. Examiner file photo)

Board of Education President Matt Haney received the endorsement of President Barack Obama on Saturday in his bid for re-election to the San Francisco school board, signalling broader support for the local politician within the Democratic Party.

Haney, who is one of nine candidates in line for four open seats on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education, is the only candidate in San Francisco that Obama endorsed over the weekend. The endorsement was one of about 150 that Obama made since Friday for candidates across the nation, according to a report from Politico.

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“Matt is an extraordinary leader, working towards a 21st century school system where all of our children can fulfill their potential,” Obama said in a statement. “Matt listens to and fights for students, educators, and families. I believe Matt represents the passion, commitment and vision that we need in our elected leaders.”

Haney said he started his career in public service as a volunteer for Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008.

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“As a school board member, I’ve focused on finding common ground and positive solutions to big challenges, which I think is an approach that he has demonstrated and promoted during his time in office,” Haney said in a text message.

“He’s probably thinking a bit more about his legacy and the future, and the need for more people to run for office and bring about positive change at the local level,” Haney added.

Jason McDaniel, a politics professor at San Francisco State University, said endorsements from elected officials are the most important form of support for a campaign, so Obama’s endorsement is a “big deal.”

“It is surprising to me that this is reaching all the way down to the school board,” McDaniel said of the endorsement.

McDaniel said the endorsement shows that Haney has backing within the Democratic Party and “absolutely” indicates his ambitions beyond the school board.

“This is a significant signal that Matt Haney is supported by members of the Democratic Party,” McDaniel said.

Haney said he didn’t seek out the president’s endorsement or ask for it.

“It was a complete surprise,” he said.

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