Today’s Iowa caucuses are a key moment in the Democratic presidential primary that could give a candidate the momentum needed to win the race or cut their campaign short.
No matter the outcome, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s historic campaign will make these caucuses the first time Democratic voters will be able to support an LGBTQ candidate for president.
“Today, Pete becomes the first openly LGBTQ person to run in the Iowa Democratic caucuses,” writes former Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization that supports queer political candidates. “[It’s] a historic event that all Americans should take pride in and celebrate.”
Although Fred Karger became the country’s first-ever out presidential candidate from a major party when he ran for the Republican nomination in 2012, Karger’s was, at best, a long-shot candidacy with no real chance of winning — he never appeared on a debate stage and was only on six states’ primary or caucus ballots.
Buttigieg’s candidacy, in comparison, has had much more viability and influence.
Buttigieg was the first presidential candidate to have a same-sex marriage and attend a Pride event with his spouse before entering the race. As a 37-year-old, he’s also the youngest Democratic candidate this cycle.
He made history by kissing his husband, Chasten, on-stage when announcing his candidacy.
He was also the first gay candidate to appear in a nationally televised debate. In that debate, he made history a second time by being the first candidate to discuss their personal coming out story in a televised presidential debate.
Right now, political statistics pundit Nate Silver predicts that Buttigieg will finish third in the Iowa caucuses, just ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) but behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Regardless of how he finishes, Parker says he and his campaign still have plenty to feel proud about.
“Pete’s candidacy marks a revolution in American politics, forever transforming what is possible for an LGBTQ candidate to achieve,” Parker wrote. “Pete has shattered expectations throughout this primary season and we are confident Iowans will help him do it again tonight.”