Meet the Star Candidate of the Week: Pete Buttigieg

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Background

When he first entered the race for President, Pete Buttigieg made a splash as the first openly gay presidential candidate, the youngest candidate in the race, and the candidate with the most unpronounceable last name (it’s  boot-edge-edge).

Buttigieg was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1982. In his senior year of high school, he won both valedictorian and a national essay contest, which he entered with an essay about the courageous politics of then-Congressman Bernie Sanders. Buttigeig is now running against Sanders for the Democratic nomination. Buttigieg graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts first-class in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.

After eight years of military service, including a deployment to Afghanistan, Buttigieg entered politics as the Democratic nominee for state treasurer of Indiana, a race that he lost to the Republican incumbent. 

Buttigieg has served two terms as mayor of South Bend. His biggest controversy occurred thirteen months after he took office, when he fired the African American South Bend police chief. Buttigieg heard reports that Boykins had improperly recorded phone calls from his white subordinates who were said to have used racist language against him. The recordings have never been publicly released.

In 2017 Buttigieg ran for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, but withdrew his name on the day of the election. He officially launched his presidential campaign on April 14, 2019.

Policies

As stated on his campaign website

In terms of his economic policy, Buttigieg considers himself a democratic capitalist, meaning that he wants capitalism to work for the people. His site states that “people of color face unique challenges to starting their own businesses, including accessing credit.” To address this inequality, Buttigieg has proposed the Walker-Lewis Initiative, which aims to “triple the number of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds within 10 years, in order to create up to 3 million new jobs in minority communities and across the country overall.”

Buttigieg has also been forward in his Health Care plan. A staunch supporter of universal health care, “Pete supports achieving Medicare for All through a pathway that helps improve people’s lives along the way while allowing the economy to adjust. He calls this “Medicare for All Who Want It.” This plan makes a Medicare-type public option available on the exchange and invites people to buy into it: if corporate insurers don’t lower costs to deliver something dramatically better than what is available today, competition will create the glide path toward Medicare for All.”

The campaign is also committed to bettering public education: “The Schools of the Future Plan is our commitment to provide the resources needed to ensure every child gains access to the skills they need to meet the economy of the future. We will invest in an equitable public education system by massively increasing federal resources for students at Title I schools, issuing new regulations to diversify the teaching profession, and investing in high-quality state and local educational programs.”

Despite the lengthy list of policies and vision, the media has been skeptical of his inability to really deep-dive into reform like his opponents Biden and Warren who have been gaining traction from an increasingly liberal voter base. According to this left-leaning Vox article, “Despite Buttigieg’s reputation as a big-thinking candidate, he’s often strikingly unwilling to commit to specific policies. But cobble together his policy positions from various public appearances and it’s clear that he’s solidly progressive in a way that could satisfy the Democratic base’s hunger for a bolder, less centrist approach to policy.”

Standing

Buttigieg consistently polls in fourth place in national Democratic Presidential Primary Polls–following Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris. He has been a breakout star in media coverage due to his own media presence and ability to connect to the younger generation of voters–dubbing his campaign “A Fresh Start for America” and announcing, “It’s time for a new generation of American leadership.”

This week (August 16th, 2019) Pete Buttigieg notably spiked in the rankings from 7th to 4th–just after Elizabeth Warren–due to his performance at the Iowa State Fair.

The unscientific poll has not been an entirely accurate predictor of caucus success, “but the state plays an undeniably pivotal role in winnowing the field: Placing lower than third here has proved fatal to nearly every campaign in modern history. And on the Democratic side, seven of the past nine winners in Iowa have gone on to secure their party’s nomination,” according to a left leaning article on the topic.

Reflecting the spike in media coverage, Buttigieg swept 17% of the kernel votes–second only to Biden with 28%. According to a left-leaning Politico article, “the 37-year-old mayor has yet to snag a single in-state endorsement in Iowa, and while his campaign has 57 staffers on the ground, it expanded to that number only recently. It’s a sharp contrast to other top Democratic candidates, who made investments in Iowa last winter to try to identify supporters and build a foundation for 2020, knowing the results here will shape the rest of the fight for the Democratic nomination.” Despite his late start, “the national enthusiasm Buttigieg attracted has popped in Iowa, too.”

Buttigieg has been successful in drawing out a new crowd to support his campaign. According to a Politico article, “Pete Buttigieg is drawing new blood into the world of big-league presidential fundraisers. Buttigieg’s campaign has amassed 94 people and couples who have already raised more than $25,000 for him in the race... But roughly two-thirds of those donors were not among the major fundraisers for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton during recent election cycles… though in many cases they are well-connected people in their own right.”

Nobias