The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and first openly gay presidential candidate has announced his exit from the Democratic presidential candidate nomination race – where will his supporters go now?
Pete Buttigieg, America’s first-ever openly gay presidential candidate, has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.
Following a major blow in the South Carolina primary, the former small-city mayor announced the end of his campaign on Sunday night, just two days before Super Tuesday: the biggest voting day of the primary in which 15 states and territories will cast their votes.
Announcing his exit, Buttigieg called for unity. “We must recognise that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and country together,” he said as per The Guardian. “Our goal has always been to unify Americans to help defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.”
So what does this mean for the rest of Democratic presidential candidate race? Well, it’s hard to say. By no means does Buttigieg’s decision to bow out leave a one-horse race. Following a landslide victory in South Carolina, Joe Biden’s late surge has positioned him as the frontrunner to rival favourite Bernie Sanders – but don’t count out Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar just yet.
The question here is: where will Buttigieg’s supporters go now? He has yet to announce which remaining candidate he will endorse.
Sanders was quick to appeal to Buttigieg’s voters on Twitter. “I want to congratulate @PeteButtigieg for running a strong and historic campaign, and to welcome all of his supporters into our movement. I urge them to join us in the fight for real change in this country,” he tweeted. However, Buttigieg has criticised Sanders in past debates as too big of a risk as Democratic nominee – so it is unlikely he will endorse him.
Others have been lobbying for Buttigieg to support Warren. However, again this is unlikely, given Buttigieg has previously called out her Medicare-For-All as going too far and misleading voters on what is possible in health care.
Many believe fellow moderate Biden is the most likely choice. According to The New York Times, Biden has already asked Buttigieg for his support behind closed doors during a conversation with former president Barack Obama. Considering Buttigieg’s leverage, if this could create a strong challenge to Sanders and ultimately reshape the Democratic primary and presidential race.
As for Buttigieg: despite his early exodus, his historic run was still a success. His meteoric rise from a national nobody to a household name and strong contender for the Democratic nomination is not to be overlooked. In addition, he collected more than $24 million during the three-month period – more than any other candidate – and emerged as the celebrity favourite, drawing endorsements from everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Mandy Moore. All signs point to a long and likely prosperous future in Democratic politics.
Who knows, maybe we will have our first openly gay president in 2024.