Dave Loebsack endorses Pete Buttigieg

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Representative Dave Loebsack speaks to the massive crowd on the Ped Mall. Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Rep. Dave Loebsack endorsed Pete Buttigieg for president on Sunday.

“Pete offers a new kind of leadership that we desperately need –– he’s a midwestern mayor, a veteran, and is from a new generation,” Loebsack said in a written statement issued by the Buttigieg campaign.

Loebsack has represented Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District since 2007, following a surprise victory over Republican Jim Leach, who had held the seat for 30 years. In April, Loebsack announced he would not seek reelection.

Loebsack’s endorsement takes the same approach as his colleague Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s endorsement of Joe Biden on Jan. 2. Neither congressperson cited any specific policies of their candidate as the reason for the endorsement.

“It’s time we have leadership in the White House who believes in the value of not only uniting a divided Congress, but uniting our country through common sense, dignity, and respect,” Finkenauer said in her statement endorsing Biden.

“With Pete in the Oval Office, I believe our nation will unite and move forward together,” Loebsack said in his Sunday morning statement. The seven-term congressman called the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, “the candidate that can heal our divides, restore decency to the presidency, and bring this country together.”

(James Mueller was sworn in as mayor of South Bend on Jan. 1. Buttigieg chose to run for president, instead of a third term as mayor.)

Loebsack’s endorsement was announced less than 48 hours after the new Iowa Poll showed a collapse in support for Buttigieg among likely Democratic caucusgoers. Two months ago, the poll showed Buttigieg in the lead, with the support of 25 percent of poll respondents. The Iowa Poll released on Friday evening showed Buttigieg losing nine percentage points in support, and dropping to third place behind Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

It’s unclear what impact Loebsack’s endorsement will have locally. In 2016, he endorsed Clinton five months before the Iowa Caucus, and campaigned for her, but Sanders easily won Johnson County that year, with 59.5 percent of the vote.

Speaking to Roll Call in August, Loebsack said, “I question the value of these endorsements. I know people want me to give an endorsement and all that.”

“Iowans are going to make up their own minds,” he added.

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