Local congresswoman Lois Capps, who represents the 23rd District and is a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention, endorsed Barack Obama for president of the United States yesterday, shifting the position of impartiality she took at her last UCSB appearance.

Capps publicly announced her position yesterday, following Indiana Rep. Baron Hill’s and Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley’s announcements in the morning. As the heated race for the Democratic nominee draws down to the last few states, endorsements by superdelegates like Capps have become increasingly important. Obama is currently positioned ahead of rival Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates, 1,489 to 1,333, while Clinton currently leads in superdelegate totals, 264 to 243.

Obama responded graciously to his latest endorsement in a statement of thanks.

“It’s an honor to have the support of Congresswoman Capps,” Obama said. “I look forward to fighting alongside her in the months ahead to finally make universal health care a reality, strengthen our economy and bring about real change for the people of California and for all America.”

Capps said that she was torn between the two very qualified Democratic contenders, but in the end, she said Obama had exceptional qualities that distinguished him from his opponent.

“Democrats were blessed this year with many talented and capable candidates, and I believe that both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama would make fine presidents,” Capps said. “But Sen. Obama’s proven judgment, his hopeful vision of America and his unmatched ability to motivate millions of Americans eager for change made the choice for me.”

At a UCSB Campus Democrats meeting last January, Capps made an appearance and stressed her impartiality between the two Democratic presidential hopefuls. Yesterday, Capps said that she had long supported Obama, but that she had withheld her endorsement so that she would not influence local voters during the California primaries.

“I think his qualities are fantastic,” Capps said. “I don’t think it’s any secret among close friends and family members that I did vote for Barack Obama. I wanted to stay neutral to not impose any influence among my constituents.”

Capps said she was particularly impressed with the student turnout in the presidential primary and that she had tremendous faith in the judgment of the university’s students.

“UCSB is just awesome,” Capps said. “There are a lot of good Hillary supporters out there, too. She is a fabulous candidate as well, but I think this is the time for Barack Obama to be our leader.”

Capps said Obama has sound judgment, eloquence and inspiration. She said the principal reason she endorsed him was because she believes he appeals to a different kind of politics.

“These are all true and good reasons, but I also believe Barack Obama is the better choice because of something larger and perhaps more important,” Capps said. “Simply put, he has made a call to the better angels of our nature.”

Capps was first sworn in during March of 1998, occupying the former position of her late husband, Walter Capps. The congresswoman said Obama was the kind of candidate her late husband would have endorsed.

“Walter once said, ‘We are strongest as people when we are directed by that which unites us, rather than giving into the fears, suspicions, innuendos and paranoias that divide,'” Capps said. “I have been waiting for a president that speaks to that vision. I believe that Barack Obama may very well be that rare leader.”