VoteVets, a liberal political action committee that backs veterans running for office, announced their support for Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday, marking the group’s first endorsement in a presidential primary.
In their announcement, which was first reported by The New York Times, the group lauded Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a Navy veteran, as the candidate best poised to beat President Donald Trump in 2020.
“We need a candidate who will win,” VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz said in a statement. “Bar none, Pete gives us the best shot at doing just that. It is time to rally around him, and stop the walking, talking national security threat that is Donald Trump.”
“Pete has the experience to lead, and what it takes to beat Donald Trump!” the group added in a tweet about the endorsement.
Buttigieg took a leave of absence as mayor in 2014 when he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2017.
The 37-year-old veteran said he is “thrilled” to have VoteVets’ endorsement.
“VoteVets has been a voice for some time and become a very important voice for veterans,” Buttigieg told the Times. “For a lot of folks in my generation, the post-9/11 veterans, it’s a huge honor to have their support.”
Buttigieg is one of just two veterans left in the Democratic presidential primary. The other is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii who served with the Hawaii Army National Guard in Iraq and Kuwait in the 2000s.
Both candidates have vowed to bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, the site of America’s longest-running war at nearly 20 years, within their first year as president if elected.
“We feel that he has the most credibility and the most experience to lead our federal government,” Soltz told the Times. “There’s nobody better to end the Afghanistan war than a person who fought in it.”
VoteVets will likely bring significant financial assistance to Buttigieg’s bid, not only by making a maximum contribution to the campaign but through the group’s super PAC, which can spend large sums of money on advertising for the campaign.