President Barack Obama has endorsed Sylvester Turner in the Houston mayoral runoff, a race expected to go down to the wire Saturday between the longtime state representative and former Kemah Mayor Bill King. 

"Sylvester rose from humble beginnings to become a champion in the Texas Legislature for quality education, universal access to health care and affordable electricity rates for seniors," Obama said in a statement released Friday afternoon by Turner's campaign. "His story is the American story, and he's determined to keep the promise of his city and country alive for the next generation."

Obama added: "Sylvester believes that every Houstonian deserves safer neighborhoods, stronger schools and better infrastructure, no matter what you look like or what part of town you live in. I agree."

Turner and King are on the ballot to replace term-limited Mayor Annise Parker. A poll released Tuesday found the race in a dead heat, with each candidate supported by 38 percent of likely voters. 

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The office is nonpartisan, though the race is seen by many as a showdown between a decades-long Democrat, Turner, and the Republican-leaning King. 

The announcement of Obama's endorsement came hours after Turner's campaign rolled out the backing of another national Democrat: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.