South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg made it official early Wednesday: He is forming an presidential exploratory committee.
If Buttigieg decides to run, he will become the first openly LGBTQ elected official to run for president.
Buttigieg joins a crowded field of prominent Democrats with their eyes on The White House, as President Donald Trump seek re-election. Other Democrats who have formed exploratory committees or declared their candidancy include: Julian Castro, former U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; California Sen. Kamala Harris; West Virginia State Sen. Richard Ojeda; and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
A Rhodes Scholar, Buttigieg studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University.
From 2009-2017, Buttigieg was an officer in U.S. Navy Reserve. He took a leave of absence to serve in Afghanistan during a seven-month deployment in 2014, earning the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his counterterrorism work.
He ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for state treasurer against Republican Richard Mourdock. The following year, he was elected mayor of South Bend. At only 29, he was then the youngest mayor of a city with more than 100,000 residents in the country. Buttegieg won mayoral re-election in 2015, but ran unsuccessfully for Democratic National Committee chair in 2017.
Buttegieg married his partner, Chasten Glezman, on June 16, 2018, making him the first South Bend mayor in 40 years to marry while in office.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ people, cheered Buttigieg’s decision Wednesday. Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO, released the following statement:
“An openly LGBTQ elected official forming a presidential exploratory committee is a historic and powerful moment for the LGBTQ community and the entire country. Exactly fifty years after the Stonewall uprising that gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement, we are finally in a place where an openly LGBTQ presidential candidate can be a serious contender. For the teenager in small-town America who is just coming to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity, having an openly LGBTQ person running for the most important political office in the world will demonstrate there is no limit to what they can achieve—and that is transformative.
“In such a wide-open presidential race, Mayor Buttigieg would be a welcome contribution to the marketplace of ideas that will determine where our nation is headed in 2020 and beyond. And while he is not running on his sexual orientation, his presence will undoubtedly elevate LGBTQ issues in the Democratic primary. LGBTQ voters are an important part of the primary base, and with Mayor Buttigieg on the campaign trail and on the debate stages, other Democratic presidential candidates will need to be outspoken and well-versed on LGBTQ equality issues.
“Mayor Buttigieg is well-positioned for this political moment. He represents a new generation of presidential contenders and brings a sense of optimism and American solidarity that is entirely absent from the current national dialogue. He brings a unique set of skills and values to the race as a successful two-term executive, a first-generation American and a gay war veteran from a deep red state. Mayor Buttigieg understands that Americans are tired of politics as blood-sport and instead want politicians to address real issues affecting real lives. He sees the similarities between the blue-collar worker in Indiana, the undocumented immigrant in Arizona, and the young lesbian in middle school in rural Virginia—and he believes with strong leadership all their lives can be improved.
“Our country is in crisis and it is essential diverse perspectives are heard in this presidential race.”