Pete Buttigieg - Wikipedia

Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg[1] ( BOOT -ə-jehj;[2][3] born January 19, 1982) is an American politician, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 United States presidential election.

Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard College and Oxford University, attending the latter on a Rhodes Scholarship. From 2007 to 2010, he worked as a consultant at the management consulting firm McKinsey.[4] From 2009 to 2017, he served as a naval intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant. In 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal.[5]

Before running for office, Buttigieg worked on the political campaigns of the Democrats Jill Long Thompson, Joe Donnelly, and John Kerry. Buttigieg served as the 32nd mayor of South Bend, Indiana, from January 2012 to January 2020, as the youngest mayor of a city with a population of over 100,000. In 2015, Buttigieg publicly came out as gay and was reelected with over 80% of the vote.[6]

Buttigieg launched his campaign for the 2020 United States presidential election on April 14, 2019.[7][8] He became the first openly gay person to launch a major presidential campaign.[9] Despite initially low expectations, he gained significant momentum in mid-2019 when he participated in several town halls, forums, and debates.

Early life and career

Buttigieg was born in South Bend, Indiana, the only child of Joseph and Jennifer Anne Buttigieg (née Montgomery).[10] The Buttigieg family hails from Malta. His father, who was from Hamrun, had studied to be a Jesuit priest before emigrating to the United States and embarking on a secular career as a professor of literature at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.[11][12] His father was a professor at Notre Dame for 29 years.[13] His mother's family has lived in Indiana for generations.[14]


In 2000, Buttigieg was valedictorian of his senior class at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.[15] That year, he won first prize in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's Profiles in Courage essay contest. He traveled to Boston to accept the award and met Caroline Kennedy and other members of President Kennedy's family. The subject of his winning essay was the integrity and political courage of then U.S. representative Bernie Sanders of Vermont, one of only two independent politicians in Congress.[16][17]

Buttigieg attended Harvard University, where he majored in history and literature.[18] He became president of the Student Advisory Committee of the Harvard Institute of Politics and worked on the institute's annual study of youth attitudes on politics.[19][20] He wrote his undergraduate thesis, titled The Quiet American's Errand into the Wilderness, on the influence of puritanism on U.S. foreign policy as reflected in Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American.[21][22] The title of his thesis is also an allusion to American historian Perry Miller's work Errand into the Wilderness.[23]

Upon graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 2004, Buttigieg was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa[1] and awarded a Rhodes Scholarship; in 2007, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with first-class honours in philosophy, politics, and economics after studying at Pembroke College, Oxford.[24] At Oxford, he was an editor of the Oxford International Review,[25] and was a co-founder[25] and member of the Democratic Renaissance Project, an informal debate and discussion group of about a dozen Oxford students.[26][27]

Professional career

Before graduating from college, Buttigieg worked as an investigative intern at WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC News affiliate.[28] He also interned for Democrat Jill Long Thompson during her unsuccessful 2002 congressional bid.[citation needed ] In 2006, he lent assistance to Joe Donnelly's successful congressional campaign.[29]

From 2004 to 2005, Buttigieg worked as conference director of the Cohen Group.[30] For several months in Arizona and New Mexico,[31] Buttigieg worked on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign as a policy and research specialist.[32] When he accepted the offer to work for Kerry's campaign, he declined another to work for Barack Obama's 2004 United States Senate campaign.[31]

After earning his Oxford degree, in 2007 Buttigieg became a consultant at the Chicago office of McKinsey & Company,[33][34] where he worked on energy, retail, economic development, and logistics for three years.[35][36] His clients at McKinsey included the health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, electronics retailer Best Buy, Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws, two nonprofit environmentalist groups (the Natural Resources Defense Council and Energy Foundation) and several U.S. government agencies (the EPA, Energy Department, Defense Department, and Postal Service).[37][38] He took a leave of absence from McKinsey in 2008 to become research director for Jill Long Thompson's unsuccessful campaign for Indiana governor.[39][40][41] Buttigieg left McKinsey in 2010 in order to focus full-time on his campaign for Indiana state treasurer.[33]

Buttigieg has been involved with the Truman National Security Project since 2005 and serves as a fellow with expertise in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[35] In 2014, he was named to the organization's board of advisors.[42]

Military service

Buttigieg joined the U.S. Navy Reserve through the direct commission officer (DCO) program and was sworn in as an ensign in naval intelligence in September 2009.[43] In 2014, he took a seven-month leave during his mayoral term to deploy to Afghanistan.[44][45][46] While there, Buttigieg was part of a unit assigned to identify and disrupt terrorist finance networks. Part of this was done at Bagram Air Base, but he also worked as an armed driver for his commander on more than 100 trips into Kabul. Buttigieg has jokingly referred to this role as "military Uber", because he had to watch out for ambushes and explosive devices along the roads and ensure that the vehicle was guarded.[47] In order to better communicate with the local Afghans, he learned some Dari (a dialect of the Persian language). Buttigieg was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal[5] and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award[citation needed ] and resigned his commission from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2017.[48][49]

Indiana state treasurer election

Buttigieg was the Democratic nominee for state treasurer of Indiana in 2010. He received 37.5% of the vote, losing to Republican incumbent Richard Mourdock.[50][51]

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

Election and transition

Buttigieg was elected mayor of South Bend in the November 2011 election, with 10,991 of the 14,883 votes cast (74%).[52] He took office in January 2012 at age 29, becoming the second-youngest mayor in South Bend history—Schuyler Colfax III became mayor at age 28 in 1898[53]—and the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents.[52][54]

In 2011, as South Bend's mayor-elect, Buttigieg supported John Broden in his successful bid to become St. Joseph County Democratic Party chairman.[55]

First term


In 2012, after a federal investigation ruled that South Bend police had illegally recorded telephone calls of several officers, Buttigieg demoted police chief Darryl Boykins.[56] Buttigieg also dismissed the department's communications director, the one who had actually "discovered the recordings but continued to record the line at Boykins' command".[56] The police communications director alleged that the recordings captured four senior police officers making racist remarks and discussing illegal acts.[56][57] The city is 26% black, but only 6% of the police force is black.[58]

Buttigieg has written that his "first serious mistake as mayor" came shortly after taking office in 2012, when he decided to ask for Boykins's resignation. The city's first ever African-American police chief accepted the request. However, the next day, backed by supporters and legal counsel, Boykin requested reinstatement. When Buttigieg denied this request, Boykin sued the city for racial discrimination,[59] arguing that the taping policy had existed under previous police chiefs, who were white.[60] Buttigieg settled the suits brought by Boykins and the four officers out of court for over $800,000.[56][61] In 2015, a federal judge ruled that Boykins's recordings violated the Federal Wiretap Act.[57] Buttigieg came under pressure from political opponents to release the tapes, but said that doing so would be a violation of the Wiretap Act.[57] He called for the eradication of racial bias in the police force.[56] An Indiana court is hearing a case for the release of the tapes.[60]

In 2014, South Bend adopted the National Network for Safe Communities’ Group Violence Intervention approach.[62][63]

Urban development and blight removal initiatives

As mayor, Buttigieg promoted the transformation of the former Studebaker plant location into a technology park named Ignition Park.[64] He oversaw the city's launching of a 3-1-1 system in 2013.[65][66]

One of the major private developments to go through the city's approval process during Buttigieg's first term was a pair of seven-story condominiums along the St. Joseph River, across the river from Century Center.[67][68] In December 2013, the Area Board of Zoning Appeals approved the approximately $38.5 million development.[67] It broke ground in 2018.[68] The city ultimately invested $5 million in related projects, such as an adjoining section of riverwalk.[69]

As mayor, Buttigieg was a leading figure behind the creation of a nightly laser-light display along downtown South Bend's St. Joseph River trail as public art. The project cost $700,000, which was raised from private funds.[70] The "River Lights" installation was unveiled in May 2015 as part of the city's 150th anniversary celebrations.[56]

By the end of Buttigieg's first term, South Bend had sold off 71 city-owned properties.[71] A significant example was the former Bendix Corporation headquarters and factory, which the city sold to Curtis Products in 2014.[71][72] In late 2014 and early 2015, South Bend negotiated the sale of the city-owned Blackthorn Golf Course.[73][74] The LaSalle Hotel was sold to developers in 2015 for conversion into apartments.[71][75]

In his budget proposal for the 2014 fiscal year, Buttigieg proposed combining South Bend's Code Enforcement, Animal Control, and Building Department into a single Department of Building Services to save costs and improve efficiency.[66] The proposal failed, and the three have remained separate departments.[76]

One of Buttigieg's signature programs has been the "Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative"; known locally as "1,000 Properties in 1,000 Days", it is a project to repair or demolish blighted properties across South Bend.[77][78] The program reached its goal two months before its scheduled end date in November 2015.[79] By the thousandth day of the program, before Buttigieg's first term ended, nearly 40% of the targeted houses were repaired, and 679 were demolished or under contract for demolition.[80] Buttigieg took note of the fact that many homes within communities of color were the ones demolished, leading to early distrust between the city and these communities.[81]

Service in Afghanistan

Buttigieg served for seven months in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, returning to the United States on September 23, 2014.[82] While deployed, he was assigned to the Afghan Threat Finance Cell, a counterterrorism unit that targeted Taliban insurgency financing.[83][84] In his absence, Deputy Mayor Mark Neal, South Bend's city comptroller, served as executive from February 2014 until Buttigieg returned to his role as mayor in October 2014.[52][82][85]

RFRA opposition

In 2015, during the controversy over Indiana Senate Bill 101—the original version of which was widely criticized for allowing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people—Buttigieg emerged as a leading opponent of the legislation. Before his reelection campaign, he came out as gay to express his solidarity with the LGBTQ community.[6][86]


In 2014, The Washington Post called Buttigieg "the most interesting mayor you've never heard of" based on his youth, education, and military background.[52]

Second term



South Bend

150th Anniversary festivities, where Buttigieg performed live with singer-songwriter

Ben Folds

Reelection in 2015

In 2014, Buttigieg announced that he would seek a second term.[87] He won the Democratic primary with 78% of the vote, defeating Henry Davis Jr., the city councilman from the Second District.[88] In November 2015, he was elected to his second term as mayor with over 80% of the vote, defeating Republican Kelly Jones by a margin of 8,515 to 2,074 votes.[89]

Housing, transportation, parks, and infrastructure

In a new phase of the Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative, South Bend partnered with the Notre Dame Clinical Law Center to provide free legal assistance to qualifying applicants wishing to acquire vacant lots and, with local nonprofits, to repair or construct homes and provide low-income home ownership assistance using South Bend HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funds.[90][91] He increased city funding levels for home construction and improvement in the 2018 South Bend budget via several programs, including the UEA (Urban Enterprise Association) Pilot Home Repair Program, a grant intended to improve low-income residents' quality of life.[92][93][70]

In 2013, Buttigieg proposed a "Smart Streets" urban development program to improve South Bend's downtown area,[56] and in early 2015—after traffic studies and public hearings—he secured a bond issue for the program backed by tax increment financing.[94][95] "Smart Streets" was aimed at improving economic development and urban vibrancy as well as road safety.[96] The project involved the conversion of one-way streets in downtown to two-way streets, traffic-calming measures, the widening of sidewalks, streetside beautification (including the planting of trees and installation of decorative brickwork), the addition of bike lanes[95] and the introduction of roundabouts.[96] Elements of the project were finished in 2016,[56] and it was officially completed in 2017.[96] The project was credited with spurring private development in the city.[95]

Under Buttigieg, South Bend invested $50 million in the city's parks, many of which had been neglected during the preceding decades;[70] the city also began a "smart sewer" program, the first phase of which was finished in 2017 at a cost of $150 million.[97] The effort utilized federal funds[98] and by 2019 had reduced the combined sewer overflow by 75%.[97] The impetus for the effort was a fine that the EPA had levied against the city in 2011 for Clean Water Act violations.[97]

By 2019, the city had seen $374 million in private investment for mixed-use developments since Buttigieg had taken office.[99][70] In 2016, the City of South Bend partnered with the State of Indiana and private developers to break ground on a $165 million renovation of the former Studebaker complex, with the aim to make the complex home to tech companies and residential condos.[100] This development is in the so-called "Renaissance District", which includes nearby Ignition Park.[97][101] In 2017, it was announced that the long-abandoned Studebaker Building 84 (also known as "Ivy Tower") would have its exterior renovated with $3.5 million in Regional Cities funds from the State of Indiana and $3.5 million from South Bend tax increment financing, with plans for the building and other structures in its complex to serve as a technology hub.[102] While many aspects of South Bend had improved by 2016, a Princeton University study found that the rate of evictions in the city had worsened, more than doubling since Buttigieg took office.[97]

In January 2019, Buttigieg launched the South Bend Home Repair initiative. This expanded the existing South Bend Home Repair Pilot, which helps make available funds to assist residents with home repairs, through the use of $600,000 in city funding (double what the city had earlier pledged to the program) and $300,000 in block grants.[103] It also created two new programs. The first of these is the South Bend Green Corps, which makes funds available to lower-income homeowners for such uses as energy-saving measures and basic weatherization, the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, lead tests, and energy bill review. It also provides education on reducing energy bills.[103] The South Bend Green Corps was funded with $290,000 from the city and $150,000 from AmeriCorps.[103] The second program is Love Your Block, which assists citizen groups and local nonprofits in revitalizing neighborhoods, and which was funded with $25,000 from the city and $25,000 from the nonprofit Cities of Service.[103]

Buttigieg had been arranging a deal under which the city's parks department would sell Elbel Golf Course to developers for $747,500.[104] In January 2016, amid public pressure, the city dropped the plan.[104] The idea had been floated in 2014, when the city was exploring selling the Blackthorn golf course,[74] but began to gain momentum in 2015.[105] Buttigieg had justified the plan to sell the city-owned golf course by claiming that residents found golf to be a low priority, that the course had failed to turn a profit for over five years, and that the city was subsidizing rounds of golf at about $2 per round.[104] Buttigieg characterized the course as a drain on the city's finances.[105][106] Opposition arose, with concerns that the sale would limit public access to the land and endanger the protection of wetlands surrounding it.[104][107] At 313 acres (127 ha),[108][109] Elbel constituted the city's largest park.[74][110] The park, while owned by the city, is outside city boundaries.[74] The original plan Buttigieg outlined for the sale would have allowed it to be developed freely by the buyer.[110]

Buttigieg supported a proposed high-rise development in South Bend's East Bank neighborhood[111][112] that would greatly exceed the existing height ordinances.[113][114] In the weeks after the Common Council voted against the development in December 2016, Buttigieg and his administration negotiated a new compromise plan with the developer, Matthews LLC, that reduced the height from twelve stories to nine.[115] In January 2017, the Common Council voted to approve a ten-year tax abatement for the $35 million development.[116] In February, the Common Council raised the height limits for the East Bank neighborhood to facilitate the development.[114][117] The city later committed $5 million in tax increment financing to the project.[118]

In September 2019, the city of South Bend finalized a long-anticipated agreement with St. Joseph County to jointly fund the county's $18 million share of the project to double-track the South Shore Line.[119][120]

Beginning in August 2018, Buttigieg promoted the idea of moving the city's South Shore Line station from South Bend International Airport to the city's downtown.[119][119] He made it a goal to have the city complete this project by 2025.[121] Buttigieg's earlier budgets had allotted funding to the existing South Shore Relocation project,[122][123] which would have moved the station to a different end of the South Bend International Airport.[124] Buttigieg's new push for a downtown station engendered suggestions of other possible locations. Buttigieg ordered a study of five location options, including his personally preferred downtown option, as well as two that would keep the station at the airport.[125] Of the five, the downtown location was found to be the priciest, but also the one with the greatest potential economic impact.[126] In December 2018, an engineering study was commissioned to further examine the cost of a downtown station.[121]

In 2019, South Bend launched Commuters Trust, a new transportation benefit program created in collaboration with local employers and transportation providers (including South Bend TRANSPO and Lyft) and made possible by a $1 million three-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.[127][128]

During Buttigieg's tenure, Downtown South Bend saw roughly $200 million in private investment.[129]

Police and fire services

In late September 2017, in his budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year, Buttigieg sought Common Council approval to create the new position of Director of Public Safety, which would have oversight over the city's fire and police chiefs.[130][131] Such a position had existed in South Bend during the mayoralties of Jerry Miller and Peter Nemeth; Nemeth eliminated the position in 1976.[132] Buttigieg's budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year earmarked $105,000 for the position's salary, which was more than the salary of the fire chief or police chief at the time.[131][132][133] The plan was opposed by members of the fire and police forces, including the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge.[132][130] Criticisms included claims that it was unfair to both the fire and police chiefs to create an additional layer of bureaucracy between them and the mayor.[132] The Common Council rejected Buttigieg's proposal,[130] and he rescinded the request.[134] In late October 2019, it was announced that the South Bend Mayor's Office would have a slightly different new division, the Division of Community Initiatives. This is budgeted to be launched in 2020, when Buttigieg's successor will take office. Buttigieg supported this department's creation.

In September 2018, South Bend sent roughly 20 members of its fire department's Swift Water Rescue Group to Raleigh, North Carolina, to assist in anticipation of Hurricane Florence.[136][137]

After a white South Bend police officer shot and killed Eric Logan, an African-American man, in June 2019, Buttigieg was drawn from his presidential campaign to focus on the emerging public reaction. Body cameras were not turned on during Logan's death.[138] Soon after Logan's death, Buttigieg presided over a town hall attended by disaffected activists from the African-American community as well as relatives of the deceased man. The local police union accused Buttigieg of making decisions for political gain.[139][140] In November 2019, Buttigieg secured $180,000 to commission a review of South Bend's police department policies and practices to be conducted by Chicago-based consulting firm 21CP Solutions.[141]

During Buttigieg's tenure, the city's police force continued to struggle with a high homicide rate; the annual number of murders in South Bend was 18 in 2012, 9 in 2013, 17 in 2014, 7 in 2015, 14 in 2016, 15 in 2017, and 13 in 2018.[142]

Other civic matters

Buttigieg's budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year included items to address various public health concerns,[143][122] including funding for a "healthy homes" program,[143] which was ultimately included in the 2018 budget approved by the Common Council.[144] Buttigieg also made a request for $24 million to fund new green spaces in the city[143] that was ultimately excluded from the budget.[144]

Buttigieg's budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year included $156,000 for paid parental leave to city employees.[145][146][147][148]

Buttigieg had expressed his openness to a proposal by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians to open a tribal casino in South Bend.[149] The Common Council approved a casino deal in April 2016,[149] and the Pokagon Band received federal clearance to put the land into a required trust in November 2016.[150][151] Under a revenue-sharing agreement that the Pokagon Band voluntarily entered into with the city, the city receives the greater of 2% of the casino's annual Class II gaming revenues or either $1 million or $2 million (depending on the number of games at the casino).[152][153][154] The casino opened in January 2018 as Four Winds South Bend.[155][156]

In 2018, Women's Care Center, a crisis pregnancy center chain, petitioned the city to allow it to rezone a residential property to allow it to open a location adjacent to a planned Whole Woman's Health abortion clinic (which would be the only abortion clinic in the city, which had been without one since 2015).[157] The rezoning case became a flashpoint between local anti-abortion activists supporting the rezoning and abortion-rights activists opposing it.[157] In April 2018, the city council voted 5-4 to allow the rezoning.[157] The group Pro Choice South Bend, which opposed the rezoning, organized a letter-writing campaign and other efforts to urge Buttigieg to use his veto power to block the rezoning.[157][158] Amid this, Buttigieg's office reportedly reached out to Whole Woman's Health Alliance and discussed various concerns.[157] Four days after the Common Council’s vote to approve the rezoning, Buttigieg vetoed it, in a decision he described as "one of the hardest decisions I've ever made" as mayor.[157] In a letter to Common Council members, Buttigieg said he was persuaded by data provided by the abortion clinic showing that there were higher rates of threats, harassment, and violence at abortion clinics near crisis pregnancy centers, but was careful not to criticize the crisis pregnancy center, writing that he believed that representatives of both the abortion clinic and the crisis pregnancy center "are good residents who seek to support women by providing services consistent with their values."[157] In a press conference he held to explain his veto, he declared, "Issues on the morality or the legality of abortion are dramatically beyond my pay grade as mayor. For us this is a neighborhood issue, and it’s a zoning issue."[157] In mid-May 2018, Buttigieg said he was willing to work with Women's Care Center to find a different location in the area.[157] Women's Care Center eventually opened at a location across the street from the planned abortion clinic.[157] When Buttigieg ran for president, some criticized his assistance to Women's Care Center as a failure to stick strongly to his abortion-rights position.[157]

Also in 2018, Buttigieg explored annexing several areas bordering the city[159] and redrawing the boundaries of several of the city's tax increment financing districts to better serve neighborhoods that had not benefited from redevelopment.[159]

In August 2018, South Bend pledged a $3.7 million bond issue to assist the Potawatomi Zoo in funding its renovations.[160] In September, it was announced that the zoo renovation had obtained additional funding from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation's Regional Cities Initiative.[161]

In August 2018, Buttigieg declared an intent to include a focus on neighborhoods in his budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year.[162] In addition to improvements to infrastructure, such as streetlights, Buttigieg also promoted the expansion of the city's Group Violence Intervention efforts, which he believed were showing success at reducing violent crime among the city's youth.[162] The Common Council approved many of Buttigieg's requests in its 2019 budget.[134]

Speculations about higher office and national political involvement

Ahead of the 2016 election cycle, Buttigieg declined to run in the United States Senate election in Indiana.[163] He later campaigned on behalf of Democratic Senate nominee Evan Bayh.[164] He criticized Bayh's opponent, Todd Young, for having voiced support in 2010 for retaining the military's don't ask, don't tell policy, which Bayh had voted to repeal.[165] In the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, Buttigieg endorsed Hillary Clinton.[166] He also endorsed Democratic nominee Lynn Coleman in that year's election for Indiana's 2nd congressional district, which includes South Bend.[167]

In 2016, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni published a column praising Buttigieg's work as mayor with a headline asking if he might be "the first gay president".[168] Additionally, Barack Obama was cited as mentioning him as one of the Democratic Party's talents in a profile on the former president conducted by The New Yorker.[169]

For the 2018 midterms, Buttigieg founded the political action committee Hitting Home PAC.[170] That October, Buttigieg personally endorsed 21 congressional candidates.[171] He also later endorsed Mel Hall, Democratic nominee in the election for Indiana's 2nd congressional district.[172] Buttigieg also campaigned in support of Joe Donnelly's reelection campaign in the United States Senate election in Indiana.[173] Buttigieg campaigned for candidates in more than a dozen states, including early presidential primary states such as Iowa and South Carolina, a move indicating potential interest in running for president.[171]

Succession as mayor

In December 2018, Buttigieg announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor of South Bend.[174] In February 2019, Buttigieg endorsed James Mueller in the 2019 South Bend mayoral election.[175][176] Mueller was a high-school classmate of Buttigieg's and served as his mayoral chief of staff, and later as executive director of the South Bend Department of Community Investment.[175] Mueller's campaign promised to continue the progress that had been made under Buttigieg's mayoralty.[177] Buttigieg appeared in campaign ads for Mueller and donated to Mueller's campaign.[178] Mueller won the May 2019 Democratic primary with 37% of the vote in a crowded field.[179][175][180] In the November 2019 general election, Mueller defeated Republican nominee Sean M. Haas with 63% of the vote.[181][182] Mueller took office on New Year's Day 2020.[183]

2017 DNC chair election

In January 2017, Buttigieg announced his candidacy for chair of the Democratic National Committee in its 2017 chairmanship election.[184] He built a national profile as an emerging dark horse in the race for the chairmanship with the backing of former DNC chairman Howard Dean, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, Indiana senator Joe Donnelly, and North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp.[185][186] Buttigieg "campaigned on the idea that the aging Democratic Party needed to empower its millennial members".[185]

Former U.S. secretary of labor Tom Perez and U.S. representative Keith Ellison quickly emerged as the favored candidates of a majority of DNC members. Buttigieg withdrew from the race on the day of the election without endorsing a candidate, and Perez was elected chair after two rounds of voting.[185]

2020 presidential election

On January 23, 2019, Buttigieg announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to run for President of the United States in the upcoming 2020 election.[187] Buttigieg is seeking the Democratic nomination.[188][189] If elected, he would be the youngest and the first openly gay American president.[187] Buttigieg officially launched his campaign on April 14, 2019, in South Bend.[8][190]

Buttigieg describes himself as a progressive and a supporter of democratic capitalism.[191] Historian David Mislin identifies Buttigieg as a pragmatic progressive in the tradition of the Social Gospel movement once strong in the Midwest.[192] Buttigieg identifies regulatory capture as a significant problem in American society.[191]

Political positions


Buttigieg supports abortion rights[193][194] and the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortion services in all but the most extreme circumstances.[195] In 2018, as mayor, Buttigieg vetoed a South Bend Common Council rezoning decision that would have allowed an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center to open next door to a planned abortion clinic.[196][157]

In May 2019, after the Alabama Legislature passed legislation outlawing virtually all abortion services in the state, Buttigieg said that it was "ignoring science, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women".[197]

Climate change

Buttigieg released a plan to combat climate change consisting of three parts: building a clean economy through the creation of clean energy jobs; improving resilience by investing in disaster relief and prevention; and heightening the United States' role in the international fight against climate change.[198] His proposal sets benchmarks of doubling clean electricity in the U.S. by 2025, zero emissions in electricity generation by 2035, net-zero emissions from industrial vehicles by 2040, and net-zero emissions by 2050.[198]

Buttigieg has said that, if elected, he will restore the United States' commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and double its pledge to the Green Climate Fund. In June 2017, he was one of 407 U.S. mayors who signed a pact to adhere to the agreement after President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from it.[199] Buttigieg also supports the Green New Deal proposed by House Democrats.[200][201]

Buttigieg favors solar panel subsidies and a carbon tax and dividend policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[202][203]

Criminal justice

Buttigieg supports eliminating the death penalty.[204] On marijuana, Buttigieg has supported Canada-style legalization, saying: "The safe, regulated, and legal sale of marijuana is an idea whose time has come for the United States, as evidenced by voters demanding legalization in states across the country."[205] He supports moving toward reversing criminal sentences for minor drug-related offenses,[206] and eliminating incarceration for drug possession offenses.[207] Though acknowledging the problematic nature of the disparity in black and white marijuana arrests, South Bend's black residents are 4.3 times likelier under Buttigieg to be arrested for Cannabis possession than white residents. This represents a rate higher than Indiana (3.5 times likelier) and the U.S. (3 times likelier).[208][209]

In 2019, Buttigieg called for the U.S. to "decriminalize mental illness and addiction through diversion, treatment, and re-entry programs" with a goal of decreasing "the number of people incarcerated due to mental illness or substance use by 75% in the first term."[210][211]

Economy, commerce, and worker's rights

Buttigieg has frequently pointed to automation as the chief cause of the great loss of manufacturing jobs nationwide.[212] He has spoken of the need to work with labor unions.[213] As a self-proclaimed democratic capitalist, Buttigieg rejects crony capitalism and supports a constitutional amendment to protect democracy from the undue and corrupting influence of money in politics.[214] He is receptive to the possibility of antitrust actions against large technology companies but more focused on privacy and data security concerns.[215]

In 2010, Buttigieg praised the passage of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.[216]

While running for Indiana state treasurer in 2010, Buttigieg described his record as fiscally conservative,[25] and supported the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), proposing that Indiana choose to deposit state funds in banks that were compliant with CRA obligations.[217][218]

In July 2019, Buttigieg released a plan to strengthen union bargaining power, to raise the minimum wage to $15, and to offer national paid family leave.[219]

Elections and voting rights

Buttigieg favors the abolition of the Electoral College.[220] He has also called for restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences.[206][221]

Foreign policy and national security

Buttigieg has said that he believes the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks was justified[215] but now supports withdrawing American troops from the region with a maintained intelligence presence.[199] He is a committed supporter of Israel,[222][223] favors a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,[223][224] opposes proposals for Israel to annex the Israeli-occupied West Bank,[223] and disapproves of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments in support of applying Israeli law in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.[225]

Regarding the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, Buttigieg told HuffPost that as a supporter of free and fair elections, he is amenable to potential sanctions but not a military intervention.[226] On June 11, 2019, Buttigieg said: "We will remain open to working with a regime like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the benefit of the American people. But we can no longer sell out our deepest values for the sake of fossil fuel access and lucrative business deals."[227] Buttigieg supports ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.[228]

Buttigieg has condemned China for its mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang, calling it a "a shocking, merciless campaign to erase the religious and ethnic identity of millions" that the U.S. should stand against.[229] He criticized Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which critics say gave Turkey the green light to launch its military offensive against Syrian Kurds.[230]

In 2019, Buttigieg said he was "troubled" by President Obama's 2017 decision to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of disclosing classified documents to WikiLeaks. He also gave a mixed evaluation of Edward Snowden's disclosure of classified information, saying, "we've learned things about abuses and that one way or another that needed to come out" but that "the way for that to come out is through Congressional oversight, not through a breach of classified information".[231]

Health care

Buttigieg opposed Republican efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[100]

During his presidential campaign, Buttigieg has promoted "Medicare for All Who Want It" (a public option for health insurance).[232][233][234] He has spoken favorably of Maryland's all-payer rate setting.[235] Buttigieg has described "Medicare for All Who Want It" as inclusive, more efficient than the current system, and a possible precursor or "glide path" to single-payer health insurance.[235][234] He also favors a partial expansion of Medicare that would allow Americans ages 50 to 64 to buy into Medicare, and supports proposed legislation (the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act), that would "create a fund to guarantee up to 12 weeks of partial income for workers to care for newborn children or family members with serious illnesses."[236]

In August 2019, Buttigieg released a $300 billion plan to expand mental health care services and fight addiction.[237][211]


Buttigieg supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and has drawn attention to the Trump administration's aggressive deportation policies. He defended a resident of Granger, Indiana, who was deported after living in the U.S. for 17 years despite regularly checking in with ICE and applying for a green card.[238]

Buttigieg has said that Trump has been reckless in sending American troops to the southern border and that it is a measure of last resort.[239]


Buttigieg has pledged about $1 trillion for various infrastructure projects over the next 10 years if elected, which he estimates would create at least 6,000,000 jobs. Many of the planned projects have environmental goals such as reliance on green energy. Other goals include protecting tap water from lead, fixing roads and bridges, improving public transportation, repairing schools, guaranteeing broadband internet access, and preparing communities for floods and other natural disasters.[240][241][242]

Judicial issues

Buttigieg has expressed support for Supreme Court structural reform, emphasizing depoliticization and suggesting that the court be expanded to 15 members, five of whom would be selected only by unanimous consensus of the other ten.[220]

Donald Trump

Buttigieg supports the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, saying, "He's made it clear that he deserves to be impeached."[243] But he has also said that there would be "a lot of benefit" if Trump were defeated in 2020 instead of being removed from office via the impeachment process,[244] and that the only true resolution would be to defeat Trump, along with his Republican "enablers" in Congress, in his bid for reelection.[243]

Racial equality

In May 2019, Buttigieg warned that President Donald Trump and his administration were using white identity politics, which he identified as the most divisive form of identity politics.[245][246] In July 2019, he shared his "Douglass Plan", named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, to address systemic racism in America.[247] Buttigieg compared the plan's scope to that of the U.S.'s Marshall Plan, which invested funds in war-torn Europe after World War II, and said it would address "opportunity for minority businesses, strengthening voting rights, and reforming the criminal justice system". The initiative would allocate $10 billion to African-American entrepreneurship over five years, grant $25 billion to historically black colleges, legalize marijuana, expunge drug convictions, halve the federal prison population, and propose a federal New Voting Rights Act designed to increase voting access.[248][247]


Pete Buttigieg supporters marching in the 2019 Boston

Pride Parade

Buttigieg favors amending civil rights legislation with the Federal Equality Act so that LGBT Americans receive federal non-discrimination protections.[249] He opposes the ban on transgender military participation enacted under Trump.[250][231]

Buttigieg supports expanding opportunities for national service, and has expressed support for a "social norm" of a voluntary year of national service for those turning 18 years old.[251][252][253] In July 2019 Buttigieg announced a plan to increase participation in national service organizations like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, as well as creating new ones dedicated to "fighting climate change, treating mental health and addiction, and providing caregiving for older people".[254] The initiative prioritizes volunteering in predominantly minority communities and rural areas by tripling programs to 250,000 people at first, then expanding to one million by 2026.[254]

Buttigieg opposes free college tuition because he believes that it unfairly subsidizes higher-income families at the expense of lower-income people who do not attend college. This position distinguishes him from other progressives who support free college tuition for all.[255] Buttigieg supports initiatives to make college more affordable.[256]


Buttigieg supports statehood for the District of Columbia, and said that he would support Puerto Rico statehood if desired by the Puerto Rican people.[220]

Personal life

Buttigieg is a Christian,[257][258] and he has said his faith has had a strong influence in his life.[251][259][168] His parents baptized him in a Catholic church as an infant and he attended Catholic schools.[258] While at the University of Oxford, Buttigieg began to attend Christ Church Cathedral and said he felt "more-or-less Anglican" by the time he returned to South Bend.[258] St. Augustine, James Martin, and Garry Wills are among his religious influences.[259] A member of the Episcopal Church, Buttigieg is a congregant at the Cathedral of St. James in downtown South Bend.[251]

Buttigieg taught himself to speak a little bit of Norwegian[260] and has some knowledge of Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari Persian, and French in addition to his native English,[24][261][262] though his level of fluency in those languages is unclear. His campaign has not commented on his language abilities, but he has been recorded speaking foreign languages on various occasions, including interviews on Univision on May 8, 2019 and Telemundo on May 20, 2019.[263][264][265] Buttigieg plays guitar and piano,[266][267] and in 2013 performed with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra as a guest piano soloist with Ben Folds.[268][269] Buttigieg was a 2014 Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow.[270] He was a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Fenn Award in 2015.[271]

In a June 2015 piece in the South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg came out as gay.[6] By coming out, Buttigieg became Indiana's first openly gay elected executive.[272][273][274] He was the first elected official in Indiana to come out while in office,[163] and the highest elected official in Indiana to come out.[274] Buttigieg is also the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate, and the second overall, after Republican Fred Karger, who ran in 2012.[275]

In December 2017, Buttigieg announced his engagement to Chasten Glezman, a junior high school teacher.[276] They had been dating since August 2015 after meeting on the dating app Hinge.[12][277] They were married on June 16, 2018, in a private ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend.[278][258] Chasten uses his husband's surname, Buttigieg.[279]

In June 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a watershed moment in the LGBTQ rights movement, Queerty named him one of its "Pride50" people identified as "trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people".[280]


Electoral history

South Bend mayoral election, 2011[282]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg 10,991 73.85%
Republican Norris W. Curry Jr. 2,884 19.38%
Libertarian Patrick M. Farrell 1,008 6.77%
Total votes 14,883
South Bend mayoral election, 2015[283]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg (incumbent) 8,515 80.41%
Republican Kelly S. Jones 2,074 19.59%
Total votes 10,589


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External links