Pete Buttigieg, South Bend mayor, announces 2020 presidential exploratory committee

Pete Buttigieg, a young Indiana mayor with a budding national profile, announced Wednesday he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, adding his name to a rapidly growing 2020 Democratic field.

“I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future. Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?” Buttigieg tweeted early Wednesday, along with a video.

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Buttigieg, 37, is the mayor of South Bend, Ind. He was elected in 2011, at the age of 29, making him the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents. He enters the race as a clear underdog against a field of better-known primary rivals.

“The reality is there’s no going back, and there’s no such thing as ‘again’ in the real world,” Buttigieg says in the video, which shows before-and-after footage of South Bend, a Rust Belt city once described as “dying.”

“Right now our country needs a fresh start… I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now,” he said in the video. “We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11, and we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different. We can’t just polish off a system so broken. It is a season for boldness and a focus on the future.”

Buttigieg served as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve and toured in Afghanistan in 2014.

Amid his campaign for a second term as mayor, Buttigieg came out as gay in a column in a local newspaper. He went on to win re-election with 80 percent of the vote, and in 2018, he married his husband, middle school teacher Chasten Glezman. If he were to win the Democratic nomination, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay presidential nominee from a major political party.

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But making the jump from local politics to the White House is a daunting challenge for Buttigieg, who announced last month that he would not seek a third term as mayor. Buttigieg did raise his national profile, however, in 2017, when he ran unsuccessfully for Democratic National Committee chairman. He withdrew from the race before a vote due to a lack of support.

Already, a year out from the Iowa caucuses, several high-profile Democrats have announced their intention to take on President Trump in 2020.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., kicked off the recent declarations when she officially announced a presidential exploratory committee. Then came Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, followed by former Obama administration Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and this week, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

While they have yet to announce, other possible candidates include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Texas Democratic Senate candidate and Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.