Pete Buttigieg for President draft campaign launches

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Pete Buttigieg
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Image: Edward Kimmel (CC2.0)

A campaign to draft South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a candidate for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination has taken a huge step forward this week with the formal launch of the PETE PAC.

Mayor Pete for President?

The Progressives for Equality Truth and Ethics (PETE) PAC has been inaugurated by Buttigieg supporter Mark Meier, a Washington, DC-based communications professional who has been urging “Mayor Pete” to make a run for months.

Meier set up a Twitter account, @MayorPete4Prez, in March and has stepped up the pace since the midterm elections (Mayor Pete memes are now beginning to appear).

On the PETE PAC website, mayorpeteforamerica.com, Meier explains his motivation:

“I started the ‘Draft Mayor Pete’ movement to bring together progressives together, focused on our shared values and belief in the future. Mayor Pete is a uniquely suited candidate to bring together Democrats from every part of our big tent party.

“Mayor Pete embodies everything that is great about our country. Not only can he stand up to bullies and autocrats, but will push forward a progressive platform focused on the simple but powerful notion: ‘What can we do to make people’s lives better?'”

According to the Indianapolis Monthly, Meier is not a part of Buttigieg’s inner circle. The nascent “Draft Pete” movement appears to simply be a spontaneous showing of support for the surprisingly popular mayor of a medium-sized town.

Can mayors run for president?

Buttigieg is one of a growing number of potential Democratic nominees without the standard resumé expected of presidential candidates. The last Democrat to win the party nomination who was not a US Senator (current or former) was Bill Clinton. The last to win the nomination who was not a senator or a governor was John W. Davis in 1924 (who went on to lose to Calvin Coolidge).

2020 might be the year to break the trend, however. Two men who lost high profile Congressional races, Richard Ojeta and Beto O’Roarke, are both being taken seriously as contenders. The name of former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrau is also frequently mentioned. Attorney Michael Avanatti has been making frequent trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. Why not add the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana to the growing list?

A Harvard graduate, Rhodes Scholar, and Afghan War veteran, Pete Buttigieg has an impressive back story and has been mayor of South Bend since 2012. Several of his initiatives have garnered national attention, including his “1,000 properties in 1,000 days” program, which renovated and resold huge numbers of abandoned homes in South Bend.

Buttigieg became a player in national politics for the first time in 2017 when he made a surprising run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He pulled out before the race finished, but despite being a relative unknown at the time gained the support of former DNC chair Howard Dean and many rank-and-file activists.

Since his DNC run, Buttigieg’s fan base has only grown. In March he was featured in the influential long-form interview podcast, Off Message, talking about his political career and the whispers about a possible future presidential run with then-host Isaac Dovere. Since then, the whispers have kept up without interruption.

Does Pete Buttigieg want to run?

Buttigieg withdrew from the DNC race at an ideal moment – after he had made a name for himself among Democratic insiders, but before the more heated closing moments of the race when resentments can build. He has been equally as judicious with his public relations efforts since then, engaging with the national media just enough to stay current but not enough to fuel rampant speculation.

Three days after the midterms he sat down for a television interview with a local South Bend television journalist to discuss his future. Foremost on the minds of Buttigieg-watchers is whether he will seek another term as South Bend mayor.

“So I think within the next month or so I’m going to need to make a decision and announce to the community about whether to seek another term as mayor,” he told ABC57’s Taurean Small. “There is a lot of important work that I want to continue doing but I also know that I can’t be mayor forever. And I think that a lot of the change and the progress in our city is much bigger than one person.”

If Pete Buttigieg does decide to sit out 2020, it may be for persona reasons. He was just married in June (to Chasten Buttigieg, neé Glezmen) and the couple are thinking about starting a family soon.

At just 37 years old, there will be plenty of opportunities in election cycles to come.

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