WASHINGTON (CNN) – For the first time since taking office, President Obama is spending some political capital to get another Democrat elected.
On Wednesday, Obama e-mailed New York Democrats endorsing Scott Murphy, the venture capitalist who is running in the special election to fill the seat in New York's 20th congressional district that was vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand when she was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January.
Murphy's Republican opponent is New York Assemblyman Jim Tedisco. The special election is scheduled for next Tuesday. Though the Democratic and Republican campaign committees in the House of Representatives have pumped resources into the race, the president has so far kept his distance.
In the e-mail, Obama calls Murphy an "ally for change" and cites his support for the economic stimulus bill that the president signed in February, a piece of legislation that has become a hot-button issue in the race.
"Scott has the kind of experience and background we desperately need right now in Washington," Obama said in the message, which was sent to nearly 60,000 upstate New Yorkers on the e-mail lists of the Democratic National Committee and "Organizing for America," Obama's political organization.
"He's created jobs by building and growing small businesses while bringing people together to address difficult challenges," Obama said of Murphy.
In addition to the president's support, the DNC is donating $5,000 to Murphy's campaign, the legal maximum the committee can transfer.
"I could not be more honored and humbled to have the President's support," Murphy said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the President as well as Democrats and Republicans in Washington to implement his recovery package, help create jobs Upstate, and ultimately get our economy back on track."
Obama's foray into the race raises the stakes of the already tightly-contested election.
If Murphy comes up short, Republicans will argue that the loss represents as a referendum on the president and his policies. But a Murphy victory would mean yet another electoral failure for the GOP, which will be forced to re-group and hope for the best in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections this November.