2020 Presidential Profiles

Published — January 23, 2019

9 things to know about Pete Buttigieg

(City of South Bend)

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announces presidential bid

Introduction

The average age of White House candidates just got younger: The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, entered the ring and launched an exploratory committee for the presidency.

“So far, so good,” Buttigieg told the Center for Public Integrity as he jogged across K Street in Washington, D.C., on route to his announcement event, where he said that “nothing could be more relevant than the experience of leading one of America’s turnaround cities.”

The millennial mayor may not be well known outside of Indiana, but he began to boost his national profile in earnest with a failed bid for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship in 2017.

Buttigieg (pronounced BOOT-edge-edge) is not just leading a long-shot campaign to become the youngest president in U.S. history: He’d also be the first openly gay man to hold the office. In 2015, Buttigieg publicly came out as gay in a South Bend Tribune op-ed. He married his husband, junior high school teacher Chasten Glezman, last year.

Here’s more on Buttigieg’s political and financial history:

  • South Bend voters first elected “Mayor Pete” to office when he was 29 years old. That made him the youngest mayor of a city with more than 100,000 residents. Buttigieg also served as a U.S. Navy Reserve officer from 2009 to 2017. During 2014, he took a leave of absence while mayor to serve a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
  • Prior to holding elected office, the Harvard graduate did a summer internship with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., worked the campaign trail for Democrat John Kerry’s 2004 presidential run, door-knocked for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and became the research director for Democrat Jill Long Thompson’s gubernatorial campaign in Indiana. Buttigieg also ran for state treasurer in 2010 and lost.  
  • After Buttigieg graduated from the University of Oxford with a coveted Rhodes scholarship, he worked for three years at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company focusing on energy and economic development.  
  • Buttigieg raised almost $370,000 from January 2016 to December 2018, for his Pete for South Bend campaign committee, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of campaign finance disclosures filed with the St. Joseph County (Indiana) Election Board. Buttigieg has $119,000 cash on hand reported on his latest filing, which covers a time period ending Dec. 31. Unfortunately for him, federal law doesn’t allow him to move any of these municipal campaign funds to a federal-level presidential account. Buttigieg’s top donors from 2018 include Gurley Leep Automotive Group President Mike Leep ($10,000), engineering firm Lochmueller Group CEO Michael Hinton ($7,500) and Mark Neal, COO of the real estate firm Bradley Company ($4,560). Buttigieg’s top corporate donors that year included Michigan’s Four Winds Casino ($2,000) and Niles, Michigan-based Selge Construction Company ($2,050).
  • Buttigieg launched an initiative during his first term called 1,000 Homes in 1,000 Days, which called for tearing down or rebuilding deserted homes in South Bend. Donors in the construction and engineering fields must have noticed: Many of the biggest checks to his mayoral committee came from individuals listing those occupations, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of filings from 2016 through 2018.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean speaks at an event during Pete Buttigieg’s ultimately unsuccessful bid for DNC chairman. (Edward Kimmel / Creative Commons)
  • In 2017, Buttigieg ran for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship and dropped out, saying he knew he didn’t have the votes. (Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez secured the spot.) Buttigieg’s campaign, however, impressed many Democrats: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is a possible presidential candidate, called Buttigieg “the future of the party” and former Obama staffers David Axelrod and Dan Pfeiffer said they would be following Buttigieg’s career.
  • To fund his DNC bid, Buttigieg created a political committee called “Pete for DNC” and raised more than $548,000 during the first six months of 2017, according to disclosures with the Internal Revenue Service. Top contributors include philanthropists and sisters Deborah Simon and Cynthia Simon Skjodt ($33,000 each); Carolyn Schwab Pomerantz, senior vice president of Charles Schwab ($10,000); D.C. lawyer Karen Dixon ($33,000), Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox ($33,000) and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes ($5,000). Buttigieg transferred $40,000 from his Pete for South Bend political committee to Pete for DNC.
  • Buttigieg in 2017 launched a “hybrid” super PAC called Hitting Home, which he used to spread $37,000 among dozens of Democrats running for U.S. Congress in conservative districts. Overall, Buttigieg’s PAC raised about $400,000 in a year and a half, though more than a third of that amount came from his Pete for DNC committee. Buttigieg scooped up donations from prominent donors such as the Simon sisters and real estate developer and LGBT rights advocate Henry van Ameringen.
  • Checking off another box for presidential contenders, Buttigieg is publishing a book, “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future,” which comes out in February. Voters will have to wait to see his federal personal financial disclosure to learn what he’ll get in royalties: Candidates are required to turn in a form to the Federal Election Commission detailing their net worth within 30 days after officially becoming a candidate, or by May 15 of that year, whichever is later. One catch: the FEC is currently closed because of the federal government shutdown.

Sources: Center for Public Integrity reporting, the Washington Post, Federal Election Commission, OpenSecrets.org, Indianapolis Business Journal, Influencewatch.org, NBC News, the South Bend Tribune, the New York Times, Internal Revenue Service, St. Joseph County in Indiana

Dave Levinthal and Joe Yerardi contributed to this report.

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Ron Moose Casey

He looks very promising