Buttigieg gets his first congressional endorsement in 2020 race

2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg received his first endorsement from Capitol Hill on Wednesday, a signal of the Democrat's growing support in the White House race.

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., released a glowing statement formally endorsing “Mayor Pete” for president, touting his “strong gut reaction” that encouraged him to endorse Barack Obama early on in the 2008 campaign and how he was “similarly inspired” by Buttigieg’s “intelligence” and “political capability.” Beyer added that he felt the “promise of a new generation” and saw a “way out of the darkness.”

The congressman continued, “In making this choice, I think of the qualities missing from the current occupant of the Oval Office. They are qualities that Pete Buttigieg exudes: decency, a grounding in history, optimism, a sophisticated grasp of the world and the dangers of bigotry, and a generosity of spirit,” Beyer wrote. “The Democratic field is full of people with these traits, but Pete possesses them to an uncommon degree, and, just as importantly, has a gift of communicating them.”

Rep. Don Beyer praised Buttigieg's work as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. (Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images, File)

Rep. Don Beyer praised Buttigieg's work as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. (Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images, File)

The lawmaker praised Buttigieg’s military service and his leadership in South Bend, Ind., which he said showed the candidate’s “values” and “loyalty.”

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“The Democratic Party is as alive as it has ever been in my lifetime. I believe Pete Buttigieg is best able to harness that energy and address our national crisis,” Beyer continued, “and I heartily commit to rolling up my sleeves next to his in helping elect him as the 46th President of the United States.”

In an interview, Beyer elaborated, “everybody I talk to -- even my Republican brother-in law I had breakfast with -- is excited about him.” He admitted he was a “huge skeptic” at first but later was impressed with Buttigieg in various interviews he gave to the media.

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Buttigieg has seen a major surge in the polls in recent weeks, now coming in fourth place in the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has racked up 12 endorsements from Democratic lawmakers. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has five, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has four, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., each have three. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is set to launch his campaign on Thursday, already has four endorsements from lawmakers.

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.