Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, will hold a “grassroots event” in Portland on Aug. 22, marking the first Maine visit by a presidential candidate ahead of the 2020 election.
Buttigieg, 37, who is one of 24 well-known Democrats running for the nomination to face President Donald Trump, announced this weekend he would hold an event in Maine’s largest city. His campaign is releasing the name of venue only to people who have bought tickets, but one attendee said it would be at the State Theatre.
The mayor’s candidacy has been a surprising one, so far besting that of three senators and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, which is nearly 84 times more populous than the Indiana city of just over 100,000 that Buttigieg has run since 2012. He is polling fifth in the Democratic field, according to RealClearPolitics averages.
Nominating races are typically sleepy in Maine, but the state may draw more attention after a switch from party-run caucuses to primaries this year. Democrats will use the optional primary, which is set for March 3 along with expected “Super Tuesday” contests in more than a dozen other states.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont easily won the Maine Democratic caucuses en route to a runner-up finish for the nomination in 2016. He is running again in 2020, but the switch to a primary is going to raise turnout. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the national polling leader on the Democratic side, led the only Maine poll so far in June by Florida-based Gravis Marketing.
Buttigieg was fourth. He has the backing of one statewide official — State Treasurer Henry Beck — with high-profile Democrats still wary to endorse here. A July poll of party officials by the Bangor Daily News turned up only five in the Legislature or higher office willing to endorse.
Buttigieg is treating the Maine event as a fundraiser, charging a minimum of $25 for most people and a lower rate for veterans. Sanders and Trump, a Republican, didn’t charge for rallies that they held in Maine ahead of the 2016 caucuses and general election.