5 Things to Know About 2020 Democrat Candidate Pete Buttigieg
On Wednesday, Pete Buttigieg (pronounced boot-uh-judge) entered the 2020 Democratic primary. The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., is one of the youngest Democratic contenders.
Here are 5 things to know about this surprise candidate.
1. Harvard veteran is lord of the poultry.
Buttigieg, who is half Maltese (his last name means "lord of the poultry"), was a Rhodes scholar and graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in 2004. He studied the influence of puritanism on U.S. foreign policy. He became a Naval intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve in 2009 and went on a 7-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2013.
He ran for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2017, backed by former DNC Chair Howard Dean.
2. Youngest mayor.
After three years at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Buttigieg returned to his home city of South Bend, Ind., and ran for state treasurer in 2010. While he lost that race, the political splash gave him much-needed name recognition (something he sorely lacks for the 2020 presidential race).
In 2011, he won his first term as mayor of South Bend, becoming the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents. He took a break from leading the city for his Afghanistan deployment. Buttigieg won re-election four years later with 80 percent of the vote. He has used the office to redevelop abandoned industrial facilities and demolish or repair vacant or abandoned homes.
Buttigieg is running on "turning around a dying city," but despite his popularity, many question the impact of his leadership. In 2016, 31 percent of tested children were found to have elevated lead levels — higher than the numbers in Flint, Mich. South Bend is safer than only 3 percent of U.S. cities. The Vacant and Abandoned Properties Initiative, started in February 2013, aimed to take care of 1,000 vacant or abandoned homes in 1,000 days, but by June 2015 only 828 homes had been demolished or repaired.
"Before Buttigieg wastes time on a presidential campaign, he should focus on his town's sea of potholes and sky-high crime rate," Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement. "His bid isn't just bad news for residents, it's more proof that Democrats are about to endure the most crowded, divisive, and contentious primary in history."