Democrat Dan Maffei, whose fight to re-take his seat from Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle is one of the most competitive House races in the country, just received a nod from the country’s top elected Democrat: President Obama.

The Maffei campaign released the following statement from the president:

“America’s middle class needs Dan Maffei in Congress to stand up and fight for them. Dan will create jobs here at home by building from the middle out, not the top down. He will protect Medicare for our seniors and education for our next generation. Middle class families can count on Dan and he needs your support on election day.”

Of course, a statement isn’t anywhere near as significant as an in-person endorsement. But the president is, understandably, a little busy right now, focused on trying to hold on to his own job in a very tight race witth Republican Mitt Romney.

This isn’t the first high-profile endorsement Maffei has received. He was one of three upstate Democrats, along with Reps. Kathy Hochul and Louise Slaughter, to benefit from in-person visits and endorsements from former President Clinton.

Maffei wasted no time in touting Clinton’s support in a TV ad. Don’t be surprised to see last-minute mailers and/or radio and TV ads that also mention the Obama endorsement, too.

Early last month, Siena found the NY-24 race a dead heat, with Maffei and Buerkle both receiving 43 percent and Usula Rozum getting 7 percent.

That poll showed Obama with a huge, 55-36 percent lead over Romney in the newly drawn NY-24, even though the district has slightly more enrolled Republicans than Democrats.

However, at that time, the president was not providing any coattails for Maffei. In fact, only 70 percent of Obama supporters said they were with Maffei, while 88 percent of Romney supporters are with Buerkle.

That same poll found Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a 75 percent approval rating with NY-24 voters. Last week, Cuomo endorsed Maffei (along with Hochul and Slaughter) and made an appearance in the district on his behalf.

Siena is scheduled to release another NY-24 poll this weekend, so we’ll see what – if anything – has changed over the past month.