ORLANDO | With less than three weeks until Florida voters have their say in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board came out with their endorsement for Pete Buttigieg Feb. 28.
“The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has displayed the qualities of a president from the beginning of this campaign,” they write, beginning the official endorsement by saying Democrats want an adult in the White House and they “have just such an adult on the ballot” in Buttigieg.
The Sentinel goes on to say Buttigieg stands apart from other Democratic candidates in his military experience, his moderate stance on the issues and his demeanor on the debate stage.
“When other candidates make debate points by yelling, Buttigieg calms the storm, conveying ideas clearly, reasonably and respectfully. When other candidates talk about war in the abstract, Buttigieg speaks from a position of experience. When other candidates take outlandish positions this nation can’t possibly afford or get through Congress, Buttigieg remains grounded in fiscal and political reality. From health care to immigration to defense, we find his policies to be progressive, but also mostly pragmatic and achievable,” they write.
The Sentinel’s Editorial Board — which consists of Opinion Editor Mike Lafferty, Jay Reddick, David Whitley and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson — do acknowledge Buttigieg is not the “ideal choice.”
“We would prefer a candidate with more political experience at a higher level, and a candidate with broader appeal to the constituencies that Democrats need to defeat Trump in November. We are particularly concerned about Buttigieg’s failure to connect with African-American voters,” they write.
After strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, much of the conversation of Buttigieg’s viability as a candidate has focused on his inability to turnout large numbers of minority voters. Support among all minority groups is key to winning the Democratic vote in a diverse state like Florida where Buttigieg isn’t even in the top three among total voters.
FiveThirtyEight.com has Buttigieg placing fourth among likely voters at 7.9%. That is behind Joe Biden at 27.2%, Michael Bloomberg at 24.7% and Bernie Sanders at 15.6%.
“We recognize that our recommendation in this contest is not necessarily the candidate who — today at least — appears best positioned to win the presidency,” they write; however, they do say Buttigieg is “unassuming, he listens, he’s humble and he’s self-aware” and those qualities will bring “into sharp relief the differences between Buttigieg and Trump.”
“America needs a fresh start with a fresh face on the scene. Democrats have that opportunity with Pete Buttigieg, if only they’ll take it,” they write.
You can read the Orlando Sentinel’s full endorsement here.
Florida’s 2020 Democratic presidential primary is March 17.