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Leirion Gaylor Baird, Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird poses with Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at a national gathering of state and local leaders recognized for being progressive and pro-growth.

Lincoln mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird has endorsed 2020 upstart Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, joining more than 50 U.S. mayors backing South Bend, Indiana's government leader.

Their collective endorsement was announced Wednesday in a USA Today editorial titled "For U.S. mayors, politics isn't bloodsport: Why we need Pete Buttigieg in the White House."

Gaylor Baird met the rising Democratic Party star when both were at events for The NewDEAL, a national network of state and local elected leaders seen as pro-growth and progressive.

"I was struck by what a good listener and a leader among leaders he is," Gaylor Baird said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

She trusts him to be an innovative and pragmatic president who would do what's best for the country if elected, she said.

During her run for mayor, Gaylor Baird mentioned Buttigieg while discussing her political influences in an interview with the Journal Star. 

Both share a belief good government safeguards freedoms of their citizens, such as the right to be safe or have clean drinking water, she said.

"If we’re doing our jobs well in the executive leadership of cities, then people are freed from worrying about the basics of city living," Gaylor Baird said.

She joined mayors from Minneapolis; Cincinnati; Kansas City, Missouri; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and others in vouching for the 37-year-old mayor.

The editorial lauds Buttigieg's innovative mindset seen in his economic reversal of South Bend's fortunes after "automation and globalization decimated" the city.

"As we face unprecedented challenges, America needs leadership in Washington that gets things done," the editorial said. "That’s why we need a great mayor in the White House."

One of his key ideas the endorsement pointed to was his proposal for a public health insurance alternative to make private insurance more affordable and give Americans options.

Buttigieg is one of 20 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

He's fifth in the field behind former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, according to an average of national polls by Real Clear Politics.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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