Metro Weekly

Pete Buttigieg says he has amassed enough donors to qualify for Democratic presidential debates

Openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., has raised money from more than 76,000 individual donors

Pete Buttigieg

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Peter Buttigieg has announced he’s raised enough from individual donors to guarantee him a spot at the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle.

Buttigieg’s campaign announced earlier this weekend he had received more than 76,000 individual donations, passing the threshold of 65,000 set by the Democratic National Committee for the first debate. Subsequent debates will be more closely based on performance in the polls.

Buttigieg thanked his supporters in a tweet but warned he would need much more cash to raise his level of name recognition and to stay competitive in a field that includes high-profile national figures like Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker — and could include former Vice President Joe Biden. As many as 20 Democrats could end up officially announcing prior to the first debates this year.

“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 wrote.

He later followed that tweet with a second one, also asking for the public’s financial support.

“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,” he tweeted.

Buttigieg, who earlier this year announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, has yet to officially announce a campaign. But he has recently grabbed national attention for his criticism of Vice President Mike Pence, with whom he had a working relationship when Pence was the governor of Indiana.

Buttigieg recently appeared at a CNN town hall and attacked Pence for seeming to compromise his purported religious and political values by supporting Donald Trump, calling him the “cheerleader of the porn star presidency,” a reference to the president’s alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Buttigieg is the only openly gay candidate to currently in the Democratic field, and is only the second openly gay man of either of the two major political parties to seek the presidency, following 2012 candidate Fred Karger’s bid for the Republican nomination.

That historic designation has helped him garner headlines in the press and slowly begin to grow his national profile, earning him invitations to appear on TV news programs like Meet the Press, CBS This Morning, and Fox News Sunday, as well as entertainment shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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