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Mayor Pete Buttigieg picks up key Florida endorsement

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw is flying Monday to Miami, where he’ll meet Buttigieg for the first time and endorse the mayor as he campaigns in Wynwood.

The first black attorney general nominee in Florida history is endorsing Pete Buttigieg’s bid to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, giving the South Bend, Indiana, mayor a prominent African-American supporter at a time when his lack of support among minority voters has become an issue.

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw is flying Monday to Miami, where he’ll meet Buttigieg for the first time and endorse the mayor as he campaigns in Wynwood. While awaiting his flight from Tampa, Shaw told the Miami Herald that Buttigieg is the best candidate in “an election for an era.”

“He’s the future of not only the party, but where I’d like to see us go with the country,” Shaw said. “Every time I hear him speak I love the way he makes me feel about where this country could go.”

The endorsement by Shaw, who is six months removed from a loss to Attorney General Ashley Moody by about a half-million votes, could be a key pickup for Buttigieg as he attempts to reach out to black voters.

Buttigieg, 37, is polling in the top five in a crowded race and looks like a dark horse candidate. But a recent Change Research poll for the Post and Courier found Buttigieg polling at 0 percent with African-American voters in South Carolina, a key primary state. And his candidacy as the possible first openly gay nominee for president is seen as a weakness with a crucial and somewhat socially conservative Democratic constituency.

“There’s resistance to stuff that’s new until there’s not. So, you just got to keep plugging away at it and keep addressing issues of concerns to the Democratic primary voters and he’ll be fine,” Shaw said. “He’s trying to put wheels on a moving car.”

An endorsement from a Florida politician may not mean much in South Carolina, but it should help Buttigieg, who has acknowledged his need to gain the trust of black voters.

Shaw, 41, was the first black candidate in Florida history to win a major party nomination to seek the post of attorney general, choosing to forgo a state House reelection bid in order to do so. His father, Leander Shaw Jr., was the first black chief justice on the Florida Supreme Court.

Shaw said he reached out to Buttigieg’s campaign to see how he could help. He’s unsure exactly how he’ll help the candidate, but said he’s happy to do whatever is asked of him.

Shaw hosts a weekly AM radio show in the Tampa media market and is a founder of the People Over Profits advocacy group. He said he expects his organization to be involved in the coming fight over voting rights and Florida’s Amendment 4, among other issues.