Sanders Jett-Folk | United States
Pete Buttigieg has been making waves in the contentious 2020 Democratic primary. The openly gay, millennial, war veteran Mayor of South Bend, Indiana has attracted attention for his progressive political stances and intellectual prowess.
From Indiana to the National Stage
Buttigieg has a history packed with impressive academic, political and military credentials.
He received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 2004. Only three years later, he received his Master of Arts from Pembroke College, Oxford.
During his time in college, he interned at WMAQ-TV, NBC’s Chicago affiliate. He also worked on several political campaigns, including former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson’s reelection and, later, Gubernatorial campaign. He also worked as a policy and research specialist for former Senator John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign.
In 2009, he received a commission as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve.
In 2011, he was elected Mayor of South Bend, Indiana at the age of only 29. This made him the youngest Mayor of a city with a population of at least 100,000 residents. He won with a resounding 74% of the vote.
During his two terms in office, Buttigieg fired a corrupt South Bend police chief, established initiatives to restore or demolish damaged houses, and established more efficient “Smart Streets.”
In 2014, The New York Times called Buttigieg “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of.” He was deployed to Afghanistan in the same year. After seven months of service, he returned home to South Bend. He remains a Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.
In June of 2015, he published an op-ed in the South Bend Tribune, in which he came out as gay. This made him the first openly gay municipal executive in Indiana.
In 2017, he announced his candidacy for the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He received several high profile endorsements, such as former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former DNC Chair Howard Dean. Buttigieg dropped out on the day of the election.
An Unconventional Campaign
Pete Buttigieg launched his exploratory Presidential campaign committee on January 23. This immediately made him the first gay elected official to run for President.
He has several odds against him. No elected official lower than a US Representative has ever been nominated for the Presidency by a major political party. Nor have they ever won the election. He also lacks the name recognition of many other candidates. California Senator Kamala Harris and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke have much higher name recognition.
However, he also has many facts in his favor. His sexuality and age could aid his victory. The reason being, is we are in a time where Democratic support for gay marriage is at an all-time high. In terms of age, many voters want to see young people involved in politics.
Success at the National Level
Buttigieg initially struggled to gain momentum in the crowded field of the Democrat Party. However, that all changed Sunday when Emerson Polling released a new poll of likely Democratic Iowa caucus voters. The poll put Buttigieg in third place, behind only former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, with 11% of voters. This came after receiving 0% in the same poll only two months earlier.
On March 16, Buttigieg announced that he had crossed the 65,000 individual donor threshold necessary to participate in the Democratic primary debates.
The 37-year-old Mayor garnered media attention last week after Asne Seierstad, a Norwegian writer, asked Buttigieg a question. He proceeded to reply fluently in Seierstad’s native language of Norwegian. A campaign advisor later confirmed that Buttigieg also proficiently speaks French, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Dari, and Arabic.
While Buttigieg is expected to officially announce his campaign in April, he is already running powerhouse campaign that other Democratic candidates will have to contend with.
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