April 15, 2019 5:00 pm
Updated: April 16, 2019 12:19 am

Who is Pete Buttigieg? A look at the progressive, openly gay U.S. presidential candidate

WATCH: Pete Buttigieg officially launches 2020 presidential campaign

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Pete Buttigieg, who was a little-known Indiana mayor just months ago, has become a household name in much of the United States in a short time.

Buttigieg’s rise in popularity started in January when he unofficially began campaigning and teasing at his presidential bid.

On Sunday, he made it official.

“It is time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different,” he said at the launch event in Indiana.

Here’s a look at who Buttigieg is, and why exactly he has caused such a stir in American politics.

(For starters, he says his last name is pronounced “Boot-edge-edge.”)

WATCH: The crowded race of Democratic presidential hopefuls


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Quick rise in popularity

Over the past few months, Buttigieg has appeared frequently on national TV news and talk shows, and his increased visibility has helped poll numbers climb quickly.

READ MORE: 2020 U.S. presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg marries couple before they go for C-section

The most recent polls put him behind only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who sought the party’s nomination in 2016, and former vice-president Joe Biden, who has not yet said he’s running.

Buttigieg’s campaign has raised more than $7 million in the first three months of this year — a total eclipsed by Sanders’ leading $18 million.

It’s also more than well-known candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Cory Booker of New Jersey have raised.

WATCH: Buttigieg says 2020 is about ‘winning an era’

Youth and progressive policies

If he is successful, Buttigieg would be the first mayor to go directly to the White House.

And he would be the youngest person to become president, turning 39 just before his inauguration, on Jan. 20, 2021. Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he took office, while John F. Kennedy was 43 and Bill Clinton 46.

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg formally joins race for Democratic presidential candidate

It’s his youth that has, in part, helped propel him to popularity. He has developed a strong social media presence following with his message that the country needs “a new generation of leadership.”

Buttigieg also says the best way for Democrats to defeat Trump may be to nominate a mayor experienced in helping to revive a Midwestern city once described as “dying,” rather than a politician who has spent years “marinating” in Washington.

First openly gay candidate

Buttigieg is openly gay and married to Chasten Buttigieg — making him the first openly gay nominee of a major presidential party.

The mayor has been vocal about his struggle to be legally married and has used many of his personal stories as examples of how politics can impact real lives.

He talks often about serving as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve in 2014, to being able to marry his husband and to not having to worry about how to pay for his father’s hospital bills after his father’s death this year.

WATCH: Buttigieg says freedom, security and democracy the principles of 2020 campaign

Chasten, a teacher, has also played in a part in his husband’s success with his own sizable social media following.

How the Democratic race is shaping up

More than a dozen Democrats have announced a run for the chance to take on U.S. President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.

Democratic voters will begin the process of selecting a nominee in a series of contests beginning early next year.

READ MORE: Pete Buttigieg has been tough on Mike Pence on the campaign trail. It wasn’t always so

Most polls have shown that Sanders and Biden, two veterans of the Democrat party, are leading. Other candidates who announced their runs earlier, such as Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris, follow in polls.

WATCH: Pete Buttigieg officially announces 2020 presidential run

One recent poll by Monmouth University noted that Buttigieg is rising in popularity quickly, and that may continue as more Americans learn who he is.

— With files from Reuters, The Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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