Gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg wins spot on 2020 debate stage

Pete Buttigieg
Photo: Pete For America

Gay presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg cleared his first major hurdle, saying on Saturday that 65,000 people have donated to his exploratory committee. That qualifies him to take part in the first debate hosted by the Democratic National Committee in June.

“Thanks to you, we hit the @TheDemocrats 65,000 donor goal in order to be invited to the first debate. But we are going to need to raise a lot more money to compete,” Buttigieg tweeted on Saturday,

“I know I can hold my own on the debate stage and represent your values with honor and integrity, but I need to know we can build a strong organization, too,” Buttigieg added in a follow-up message.

Related: Here’s how Pete Buttigieg is setting himself apart from the Democratic presidential pack

Buttigieg announced his run in late January, pushing a message of reform, and a “fresh start” for America, using his experiences turning around South Bend, Indiana as a template for moving the country forward.

Buttigieg is the first out gay Democratic candidate ever to run for President of the United States — and should he win, would be the youngest person elected to the office. Prior to him, John F. Kennedy was elected at age 43, and Theodore Roosevelt became president at 42 following the assassination of President William McKinley.

While relatively new on the national stage, Buttigieg has been in politics for 17 years, though much of it in unelected roles with other campaigns, or work at political consulting firms.

His sexuality could be an issue with conservatives nationwide, though he has shown a marked ability to convince them in a strongly red area: he was elected mayor in 2011, taking 74% of the vote — and earned over 80% of the vote when he ran for reelection in 2014 after coming out.

Buttigieg, an Afghanistan war veteran, has declined a third run for the Mayor’s seat, and clearly has his eye on bigger prizes.

The Democrats have a crowded ticket going into 2020. with 13 confirmed candidates, three additional candidates with “exploratory committees” like Buttigieg, and an additional number of candidates still playing it coy.

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