Virginia Democrat says Buttigieg could help party win back Midwest in 2020

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said Thursday that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegChasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE (D) could help the party win back key states in the Midwest that President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE carried in 2016.

“Hillary [Clinton] lost in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania,” Beyer, who in April became the first congressman to endorse Buttigieg, told Hill.TV. “I think a Pete Buttigieg candidacy gives us a chance to win those back."

Beyer said that Buttigieg, a 2020 presidential candidate in a crowded Democratic field, understands the challenges of everyday Americans in the Midwest and knows what it takes to revitalize those communities.

“South Bend, especially, was one of those great middle America cities that was hit hard by de-industrialization, by globalism, by technology. So he understands what it's like to try to bring those communities back,” Beyer said, noting the mayor’s strong approval ratings in the city.

But he acknowledged that Buttigieg has a long way to go in terms of gaining support, particularly among minorities.

“As a 37-year-old white male, he has a lot of work to do with the black community, which is an essential part not just of Democrats’ base but for American voting constituency,” he told Hill.TV.

Buttigieg stepped into the national spotlight after his widely hailed CNN town hall performance in March, and has generated media buzz with his appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and by garnering the attention of celebrities like Oprah WinfreyOprah Gail WinfreyObama setting up big bash to celebrate his 60th Prince Harry announces memoir Meghan Markle announces animated Netflix series focused on 12-year-old girl inspired by historical women MORE.

But he could be losing some of his momentum, according to recent polls. 

Even though a Suffolk University-Boston Globe poll released Tuesday showed him tied for second place in New Hampshire, recent Morning Consult and CNN polls indicated his national support has stalled at around 7 percent or 8 percent, behind several other candidates.

—Tess Bonn