By Tim Reid
DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was endorsed by veteran Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack on Sunday, a high-profile boost for the White House hopeful just three weeks before the party’s nominating contest begins in Iowa on Feb. 3.
The backing of Buttigieg by the seven-term congressman follows the endorsement this month of Joe Biden by another Iowa U.S. lawmaker, freshman congresswoman Abby Finkenauer. The third Democratic member of Iowa’s House delegation, Cindy Axne, has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate.
Endorsements by members of Congress in their home states are particularly coveted for presidential candidates, because of their name recognition among local voters and their potential to deliver support. Loebsack represents Iowa’s second congressional district in southeast Iowa, a swing region that narrowly backed Republican President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
“I’m proud to announce that I’m endorsing Pete Buttigieg to be the next president of the United States,” Loebsack said in a statement. “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 was due to introduce Buttigieg at an event in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday evening.
Buttigieg, who turns 38 next week, was until this month the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and spent seven months in Afghanistan with the U.S. Navy Reserves.
He has moved into a top tier of four candidates in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the Democrats’ nominating contest to pick a candidate to take on Trump in November’s general election.
Iowa and New Hampshire are being closely contested by Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, according to polls.
(Reporting by Tim Reid in Des Moines; Editing by Bill Berkrot)