Who Is Pete Buttigieg, the Latest Candidate to Join the Democratic Presidential Race for 2020

January 23, 2019, 12:56 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee Wednesday, saying that it’s “a season for boldness.”

In a pool of dozens of high-profile Democrats vying for the presidency, Buttigieg is relatively unknown. At 37, he would be the youngest in the race, and the only openly-gay candidate.

“I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future,” Buttigieg said on Twitter (TWTR). “Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?”

In announcing his plans, Buttigieg sent a video and email to supporters early Wednesday, and the exploratory committee set up a website at peteforamerica.com.

Buttigieg, a Harvard University graduate and Rhodes Scholar, served two tours in Afghanistan as a Naval reservist. Elected mayor at 29, seven months of his time in office was spent deployed, but the absence didn’t prevent his election to a second term. Buttigieg came out in a 2015 essay in the South Bend Tribune, becoming Indiana’s first openly gay executive. He married his partner, Chasten Glezman, in June, and the pair celebrated their nuptials at a Pride Week block party.

As the mayor of a Rust Belt city, Buttigieg has positioned himself as an energetic problem solver who’s working to help rural voters who flocked to Trump in 2016.

“What I’ve tried to do is craft a story about the industrial Midwest that’s not about nostalgia and not about resentment,” he told the Washington Post in December. “South Bend is a powerful answer for how you could do it differently and have a focus on the future.”

South Bend has been on a steady decline since its Studebaker plant closed in 1963. Buttigieg has focused on efforts to rebuild both the city and its industry. One of his first initiatives was a “1,000 houses in 1,000 days” campaign.

Buttigieg garnered national attention in 2016 when he launched a long-shot campaign for Democratic National Committee chairman. Former President Barack Obama highlighted him as a rising star of the party shortly after Trump’s election that year.

He’s already visited Iowa and plans a book rout for February. In mid-December, he announced he would not be seeking a third term as mayor.