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Experts weigh in on South Bend Mayor's possible presidential announcement

NOW: Experts weigh in on South Bend Mayor’s possible presidential announcement

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Two local political science experts said on Wednesday that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a ‘long shot’ of being a contender in the 2020 presidential race if he chooses to run. 

Buttigieg announced on January 23 he’d be forming an exploratory committee for a possible 2020 presidential run. Geoff Layman, a political science professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the announcement means Buttigieg is running.

“I think we can think of it [exploratory committee] less of an actual committee of people sitting around a table,” Layman said. “And more a mechanism through which this organization and fundraising happen.”

Layman said an exploratory committee could do the following:

-      The potential candidate can start fundraising through the committee.

-      The potential candidate can start putting together a campaign organization.

-      The exploratory committee can recruit volunteers, seek campaign donations and endorsements from other party politicians. 

Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, a political science professor at the Indiana University at South Bend, said people around South Bend have been knowing for a while Buttigieg was interested in running. 

Dr. Bennion noted Buttigieg’s travel schedule, the coming of his autobiography, and his latest run for DNC chair as events gearing him up to possibly join the race. Mayor Buttigieg is one of close to 20 people, who have either announced or are expected to announce their interest in running. 

“In a crowded field, one thing 2016 taught us is that anything can happen,” she said. 

Layman said there seemed to be a lot of buzz around Buttigieg. However, he said Buttigieg being a contender and potential party leader, if he chooses to run, would be an ‘awfully big long shot.’

He said he’d be a long shot because of the following three reasons:

-      His age – Buttigieg is 37-years-old, that is two years older than the required age a candidate needs to be in order to run for President.

-      His journey to the presidential office would be off of two mayoral terms. Layman said we would normally see a candidate with congressional experience. However, he said anything is possible, because of past elections.

-      His popularity – Buttigieg is known to many in South Bend, but outside of that Layman said he needs to get his face out there in order to compete with big-name politicians such as Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“By announcing early, he has a chance to become much better known,” Layman said. “But at this point, I think you’d have to say there are a lot of candidates who you’d put your money on before you got to Mayor Pete.”

Major publications have been pushing the South Bend mayor into the limelight. Last week, The Washington Post called Buttigieg the ‘first millennial president.’

“Mayor Pete is able to position himself as somebody who can appeal to a younger generation, who is the future of the Democratic Party,” said Layman.

Buttigieg released his announcement video on Day 33 of the government shutdown, and started it by saying ‘the show in Washington is exhausting.’ Dr. Bennion said Buttigieg can use the prolonged dissatisfaction in Americans, because of the shut down and similar events, to his advantage. 

“Much of that sort of outsider, drain the swamp sentiment that brought Donald Trump to office by winning the electoral college, could help somebody like Mayor Pete,” Dr. Bennion said.

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