The dynamic stature and fast rise of Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 Democratic race has drawn some parallels to Barack Obama, and now the South Bend, Indiana, mayor has what could be an even more important connection to the former president — his donor base.
A new report from the Chicago Tribune noted that many of Obama’s influential donors are gravitating toward Buttigieg, who is set to appear near Chicago for a series of fundraisers. One of those will be hosted by Josh Atkinson, a Chicago business executive and one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers.
The report noted that many of the influential Obama backers had been holding off in the race to see which candidate would emerge as the strongest, but many have apparently already made their decision and are backing Buttigieg. Atkinson said he was supporting Buttigieg because his Midwestern roots can help him connect with “many of the people who have supported Trump.”
As the Chicago Tribune report noted, Buttigieg comes in with a resume that is strikingly different than most presidential hopefuls.
“At 37, Buttigieg is the youngest running; he is openly gay; he was a Navy officer; he is a Harvard grad; he speaks multiple languages; he is not from the East or West coasts; and he is an outsider,” the report noted.
“He is also getting an incredible amount of flattering media coverage.”
Once languishing at the bottom of early voter opinion polls, Buttigieg has seen some major gains in recent weeks as his builds his stature and name recognition in a race crowded with established and popular Democrats. The Washington Times noted that Buttigieg has been surging in polls and taking advantage of his support from among LGBTQ groups.
“It is absolutely a benefit to him that he is LGBTQ in the sense that it has provided him with a life experience and perspective that is different from a lot of Americans,” Elliot Imse, spokesman for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, told the news outlet.
“It opens their hearts to him in a different way than they would with a white, straight, cisgender male candidate.”
Pete Buttigieg has not made his sexuality a central part of his race, however, and instead tried to focus attention back to the issues. He has also been among the more hesitant of Democratic hopefuls to directly attack Donald Trump, taking aim at the president occasionally but largely trying to paint a contrast to the president for voters.