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Francis Suarez looks to become first sitting mayor to be US president

AP – In a 2024 United States (US) presidential field full of long-shot candidates, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez may be – on paper anyway – the longest long shot of all.

No sitting mayor has ever been elected US president, a job that historically has been won by governors, vice presidents, senators or Cabinet secretaries.

Some former mayors have become commander in chief, but only after serving in higher-profile positions.

None of that has deterred Suarez, who announced his campaign this past week by talking up his experience leading the city of about 450,000 residents.

Being a two-term mayor of Miami, he said, has helped him understand and confront issues facing most Americans, such as crime and homelessness.

In the video for his kickoff, Suarez went for a run past his childhood home and his high school and spoke of his record of cutting taxes and expanding Miami’s technology economy.

“In Miami, we stopped waiting for Washington to lead,” Suarez said.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. PHOTO: AP

The 45-year-old corporate and real estate lawyer, a former president of the US Conference of Mayors, is competing for the nomination against two other Florida residents – former President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis.

They have consistently been first and second, respectively, in early primary polling, well ahead of the rest of the field.

That has so far made it difficult for other candidates to break through.

Among them are former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, radio host Larry Elder and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

Throughout US history, just three presidents were former mayors, though each – Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge – held offices such as governor or vice president in between.

And while this year’s primary field is crowded and the odds for a sitting mayor long, there is recent precedent both for a mayor to become a major candidate and for a person without government experience at all to become president.

Trump, a businessman and former reality television star, is the only person elected president without ever having served in public office or in the military.

In the 2020 election cycle, Pete Buttigieg – the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana – was the biggest surprise success story of the Democratic primary.

Known during the campaign as “Mayor Pete,” he had a top finish in the leadoff Iowa caucuses and a close second-place finish in New Hampshire before flailing in more diverse states and dropping out to back Joe Biden.