Pete Buttigieg

While it’s still early, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has jumped past former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Tex., as the leading dark horse as Democrats in Florida ponder who they want to take on President Donald Trump.

Last week, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) released a poll showing Buttigieg in fourth place in the Florida primary with 9 percent, far behind former Vice President Joe Biden who took 39 percent, but ahead of O’Rourke who pulled 5 percent.

Also last week, Pete Buttigieg hit Florida where he reeled in the backing of former state Rep. Sean Shaw, the Democrat who ran for state attorney general last year but lost to Republican Ashley Moody.

Shaw wasn’t the only Florida Democrat to endorse Buttigieg last week. State Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, also backed the South Bend mayor.

“Now is the time for new leadership in Washington and across our country. That is why today I am proud to endorse Pete Buttigieg for president of the Unites States,” Hattersley said.

“As a next generation leader, he understands that our nation needs to robustly fund our public schools, treat health care as an essential human right, and invest today in the infrastructure of tomorrow. And as a fellow Navy veteran, he understands what it means to serve and to lead,” Hattersley added.

Hattersley and Shaw appeared with Buttigieg at a campaign rally in Miami last week.

In the meantime, O’Rourke seems to have stalled at the national level and in Florida despite having the support of U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. In the meantime, he and Buttigieg seem to be competing for the same primary voters who are looking for an alternative to older and far better known candidates like Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.


Kevin Derby wrote this analysis. He can be reached at


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