- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
- Pete Buttigieg, Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has announced that he has launched an exploratory committee for the 2020 presidential elections.
- Buttigieg, 37, is an Afghanistan war veteran. The Harvard graduate is also a former Rhodes Scholar and openly gay.
- He has served as South Bend’s mayor since 2012. Last year, he announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor, sparking rumors of a presidential run.
- In his announcement video, Buttigieg said that the US needs a “fresh start” and said it needed to focus on a “new generation.”
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has joined the presidential race.
In an announcement on Wednesday, Buttigieg said he has launched a presidential exploratory committee “because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future.”
The news is not a huge surprise – many Democrats have been awaiting Buttigieg’s presidential announcement since the day he said he wouldn’t run for a third term as South Bend’s mayor.
Though he has never held statewide office, Buttigieg gained a national profile following a failed bid for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2017.
The Navy veteran is a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, as well as the first openly gay executive in Indiana.
I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future. Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 23, 2019
Buttigieg dropped out of the DNC chairman race after acknowledging that the win would go to Tom Perez.
However, his performance garnered attention and praise from prominent party leaders, including former Obama staffers David Axelrod and Dan Pfeiffer, who said they would stay tuned for the young mayor’s next moves.
Even Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who is reportedly eyeing a 2020 run himself, told INSIDER in 2017 that Buttigieg is “very much is the future of the party.”
Buttigieg was born Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg in South Bend, Indiana. He graduated from a Catholic college preparatory high school in 2000 as both president and valedictorian of his senior class. An essay he wrote about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders earned him an award from the JFK Profiles in Courage Essay Contest.
Buttigieg then went to Harvard College, where he majored in history and literature and graduated magna cum laude in 2004.
He was named a Rhodes scholar that same year and, in 2007, graduated with a first class honors degree in philosophy, economics, and politics from the University of Oxford.
As mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg – who was elected at age 29 – worked to restore the city’s infrastructure. According to the South Bend Tribune, one of Buttigieg’s legacy’s visible aspects is his Smart Streets program, a $21 million project that aimed to make downtown South Bend more pedestrian-friendly.
This, the Tribune reported, he has credited to booming development in the area.
In 2014, Buttigieg, an intelligence officer with the U.S. Navy Reserve, was deployed to Afghanistan. He served for seven months.
Months after his return, Buttigieg came out as gay in an opinion piece published on the Tribune in 2015. He married Chasten Glezman in June, 2018. Glezman told INSIDER in 2017 that he has “always joked with him like he should run for president.”
“He’s genuine, he’s authentic, and he’s exactly what this country needs,” Glezman said at the time.
Buttigieg, who is known “Mayor Pete” in South Bend, has been widely celebrated for his ability to bring together both the establishment side of the Democratic Party and its more progressive members. As a Democratic candidate from a red, Midwestern state, Buttigieg certainly faces the challenge of enticing a block of voters that the Democrats lost in 2016.
“What I’ve tried to do is craft a story about the industrial Midwest that’s not about nostalgia and not about resentment,” Buttigieg told the Washington Post in December. “South Bend is a powerful answer for how you could do it differently and have a focus on the future.”
Buttigieg has already started doing his campaign homework. He visited Iowa in December, where he spoke at the Progress Iowa annual holiday party. He has an autobiography coming out mid-February.
In his announcement video, Buttigieg said the US needs a “fresh start.”
“The reality is there’s no going back, and there’s no such thing as ‘again’ in the real world. We can’t look for greatness in the past,” he said.
The video shows before-and-after footage of South Bend, a Rust Belt city.
“I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now,” he said.
“We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11, and we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different. We can’t just polish off a system so broken. It is a season for boldness and a focus on the future.”
The Associated Press reported that he is expected to travel to Iowa next week, followed by stops in New Hampshire.