Pete Buttigieg

Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg[1] (/ˈbtəə/ BOOT-ə-jəj;[lower-alpha 1][2][3] born January 19, 1982) is an American politician who has served as the United States secretary of transportation since February 3, 2021.[4][5] A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 32nd mayor of South Bend, Indiana from 2012 to 2020.

Pete Buttigieg
Official portrait, 2021
19th United States Secretary of Transportation
Assumed office
February 3, 2021
PresidentJoe Biden
DeputyPolly Trottenberg
Preceded byElaine Chao
32nd Mayor of South Bend
In office
January 1, 2012  January 1, 2020
Preceded bySteve Luecke
Succeeded byJames Mueller
Personal details
Born
Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg

(1982-01-19) January 19, 1982
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Chasten Glezman
(m. 2018)
Parents
  • Joseph Buttigieg (father)
  • Jennifer Anne Montgomery (mother)
EducationHarvard University (AB)
Pembroke College, Oxford (BA)
Signature
Website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Service years2009–2017
Rank Lieutenant
UnitUnited States Navy Reserve
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
Awards Joint Service Commendation Medal

Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard College and Oxford University, attending the latter on a Rhodes Scholarship. From 2009 to 2017, he was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He was mobilized and deployed to the War in Afghanistan for seven months in 2014.[6] Before being elected as Mayor of South Bend in 2011, Buttigieg worked on the political campaigns of Democrats Jill Long Thompson, Joe Donnelly, and John Kerry, and ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for Indiana state treasurer in 2010. While serving as mayor, Buttigieg came out as gay in 2015. He married Chasten Glezman, a schoolteacher, writer, and LGBT rights advocate, in June 2018. Buttigieg declined to seek a third term as mayor.

Buttigieg ran as a candidate for president in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, launching his campaign for the 2020 United States presidential election on April 14, 2019.[7][8] He became the first openly LGBT 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 and debates. Buttigieg narrowly won the Iowa caucuses and placed a close second in the New Hampshire primary.[10][11][12] By winning Iowa, he became the first openly LGBT candidate to win a presidential primary or caucus.[13] Buttigieg dropped out of the race on March 1, 2020, and endorsed Joe Biden the following day.[14][15]

In December 2020, President-elect Biden named Buttigieg as his nominee to be Secretary of Transportation.[16] His nomination was confirmed on February 2, 2021 by a vote of 86–13, making him the first openly LGBT Cabinet member in U.S. history.[lower-alpha 2][17] Nominated at age 38, he is also the youngest Cabinet secretary in the Biden administration and the youngest person ever to serve as Secretary of Transportation.[18][19]

Early life and career

Buttigieg was born on January 19, 1982, in South Bend, Indiana, the only child of Jennifer Anne Montgomery and Joseph A. Buttigieg. His mother uses the name Anne Montgomery.[20][21][22][23][24][25] His parents met and married while employed as faculty at New Mexico State University.[26] His father was born and raised in Hamrun, Malta, and had studied to be a Jesuit before emigrating to the United States and embarking on a secular career as a professor of literature at the University of Notre Dame near South Bend,[27][28] where he taught for 29 years.[29] His father is a translator and editor of the three-volume English edition of Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks and influenced his pursuit of literature in college.[30] His mother was born in Stanislaus County, California,[31] graduated from Radford High School in El Paso, Texas,[32] Her mother was born in Oklahoma.[20][33] and her father was born in Indiana.[20][34]

Education

Buttigieg was valedictorian of the class of 2000 at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.[35] 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.[36][37] In 2000, Buttigieg was also chosen as one of two student delegates from Indiana to the United States Senate Youth Program,[38] an annual scholarship competition sponsored jointly by the U.S. Senate and the Hearst Foundations.[39]

Buttigieg attended Harvard University, where he majored in history and literature.[40] 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.[41][42] 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.[43][44] The title of his thesis is also an allusion to American historian Perry Miller's work Errand into the Wilderness.[45] He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 2004, and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[1]

Buttigieg was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.[1] In 2007, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with first-class honours in philosophy, politics, and economics after studying at Pembroke College, Oxford.[46][47][48][49] At Oxford, he was an editor of the Oxford International Review,[50] and was a co-founder[50] and member of the Democratic Renaissance Project, an informal debate and discussion group of about a dozen Oxford students.[51][52]

Professional career

Before graduating from college, Buttigieg was an investigative intern at WMAQ-TV, Chicago's NBC News affiliate.[53] He also interned for Democrat Jill Long Thompson during her unsuccessful 2002 congressional bid.[54]

After college, Buttigieg worked on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign as a policy and research specialist for several months in Arizona and New Mexico.[55][56] 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.[55] From 2004 to 2005, Buttigieg was conference director of the Cohen Group.[57] In 2006, he lent assistance to Joe Donnelly's successful congressional campaign.[58]

After earning his Oxford degree, in 2007 Buttigieg became a consultant at the Chicago office of McKinsey & Company,[59][60] where he worked on energy, retail, economic development, and logistics for three years.[61][62] 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).[63][64] He took a leave of absence from McKinsey in 2008 to become research director for Jill Long Thompson's unsuccessful campaign for Indiana governor.[65][66][67] Buttigieg left McKinsey in 2010 in order to focus full-time on his campaign for Indiana state treasurer.[59]

Buttigieg has been involved with the Truman National Security Project since 2005 and serves as a fellow with expertise in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[61] In 2014, he was named to the organization's board of advisors.[68]

Military service

In 2014, Buttigieg began his deployment at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

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.[69] In 2014, he took a seven-month leave during his mayoral term to deploy to Afghanistan.[70][71][72] 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 was also an armed driver for his commander on more than 100 trips into Kabul. Buttigieg has jokingly has 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.[73] 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.[6] He resigned his commission from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2017.[74][75]

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.[76][77] Much of Buttigieg's campaign had focused on criticizing Mourdock for investing state pension funds in Chrysler junk bonds, and for having subsequently filed a lawsuit against Chrysler's bankruptcy restructuring, which Buttigieg argued imperiled Chrysler jobs in the state of Indiana.[78][79][80]

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

First term

Buttigieg campaign photo for Indiana State Treasurer in March 2010

Buttigieg was elected mayor of South Bend in the November 2011 election, with 10,991 of the 14,883 votes cast (74%).[81] He took office in January 2012 at the age of 29, becoming the second-youngest mayor in South Bend history (Schuyler Colfax III had become mayor in 1898 when aged 28)[82] and the youngest incumbent mayor, at the time, of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents.[81]

On April 14, 2011, before Buttigieg took office as mayor, Jiha'd Vasquez, a 16-year-old black boy, was found hanging from an electrical tower.[83][84] Vasquez's backpack, on the ground near his body, had several items missing, according to Vasquez's mother Stephanie Jones.[83] The coroner, Chuck Hurley, who had no medical experience, claimed Vasquez's death was a suicide; Buttigieg later appointed Hurley to serve as interim police chief.[83] Vasquez's body was cremated without an autopsy being conducted.[83] Jones attempted to get Buttigieg to investigate her son's death, but he did not, fearing "potential political risks."[83] According to Jones, Buttigieg told her to call his office, but she never got a response.[83] Jones and South Bend NAACP legal redress chair Tom Bush claimed the event was a cover-up, with Bush saying he suspected the Ku Klux Klan may be involved and hoped for a federal investigation, but did not expect it, saying "the only reason this will get done is if you’re on a microphone yelling and screaming."[85] When Buttigieg's presidential campaign was asked about the incident by a reporter in 2019, they did not give a response.[83] In 2019, Jones and St. Joseph County coroner Mike McGann argued that the case should be reopened; however, sheriff William Redman said he would not consider reopening the case unless further evidence came to light.[85]

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.[86] (Boykins had first been appointed in 2008 by Mayor Stephen Luecke, and reappointed by Buttigieg earlier in 2012.[87]) 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".[86] The police communications director alleged that the recordings captured four senior police officers making racist remarks and discussing illegal acts.[86][88] The city is 26% black, but only 6% of the police force is black.[89]

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,[90] arguing that the taping policy had existed under previous police chiefs, who were white.[91] Buttigieg settled the suits brought by Boykins and the four officers out of court for over $800,000.[86][92] A federal judge ruled in 2015 that Boykins's recordings violated the Federal Wiretap Act.[88] Buttigieg came under pressure from political opponents to release the tapes, but said that doing so would be a violation of the Wiretap Act.[88] He called for the eradication of racial bias in the police force.[86] An Indiana court is hearing a case for the release of the tapes.[91]

As mayor, Buttigieg promoted a number of development and redevelopment projects.[93] 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.[94] The "River Lights" installation was unveiled in May 2015 as part of the city's 150th anniversary celebrations.[86] He also oversaw the city's launching of a 3-1-1 system in 2013.[95][96] Buttigieg's administration oversaw the sale of numerous city-owned properties.[97][98][99][100] One of Buttigieg's signature programs was 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.[101][102] The program reached its goal two months before its scheduled end date in November 2015.[103] 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.[104] 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.[105]

While mayor, 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.[106] While deployed, he was assigned to the Afghan Threat Finance Cell, a counterterrorism unit that targeted Taliban insurgency financing.[107][108] 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.[81][106][109]

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. Amid his reelection campaign, he came out as gay to express his solidarity with the LGBTQ community.[110][111]

Second term

In 2014, Buttigieg announced that he would seek a second term in 2015.[112] He won the Democratic primary with 78% of the vote, defeating Henry Davis Jr., the city councilman from the second district.[113] 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.[114]

In 2013, Buttigieg proposed a "Smart Streets" urban development program to improve South Bend's downtown area,[86] and in early 2015  after traffic studies and public hearings  he secured a bond issue for the program backed by tax increment financing.[115][116] "Smart Streets" was a complete streets implementation program.[117] "Smart Streets" was aimed at improving economic development and urban vibrancy as well as road safety.[118] Elements of the project were finished in 2016,[86] and it was officially completed in 2017.[118] The project was credited with spurring private development in the city.[116]

In 2016, Buttigieg signed an executive order helping to establish a recognized city identification card.[119][120]

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.[121][122]

Studebaker Building 84 in 2014

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.[123] This development is in the so-called "Renaissance District", which includes nearby Ignition Park.[124][125] 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 another $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.[126]

Under Buttigieg, the city also began a "smart sewer" program, the first phase of which was finished in 2017 at a cost of $150 million.[124] The effort utilized federal funds[127] and by 2019 had reduced the combined sewer overflow by 75%.[124] The impetus for the effort was a fine that the EPA had levied against the city in 2011 for Clean Water Act violations.[124] However, Buttigieg also, in 2019, sought for the city to be released from an agreement with the EPA brokered under his mayoral predecessor Steve Luecke, in which South Bend had agreed to make hundreds of millions dollars in further improvements to its sewer system by 2031.[128]

In April 2019, the Common Council approved Buttigieg's request to enable his administration to develop a city climate plan. The Common Council did so, and that month Buttigieg contracted with the Chicago firm Delta Institute to develop a plan.[129] In late November 2019, the city's Common Council voted 7–0 to approve the resultant "Carbon Neutral 2050" plan, setting the goal of meeting the Paris Agreement's 26% emission reduction by 2025, and aiming for a further reductions of 45% by 2035.[130]

Buttigieg continued to support private developments in the city.[131][132][133][134][135] By one account, by the year 2019, the city had seen $374 million in private investment for mixed-use developments since Buttigieg had taken office.[136][94] By another account, during Buttigieg's tenure, Downtown South Bend saw roughly $200 million in private investment.[137]

Buttigieg proposed moving the city's South Shore Line station

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.[138] He made it a goal to have the city complete this project by 2025.[139]

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.[140][141]

Under Buttigieg, South Bend invested $50 million in the city's parks, many of which had been neglected during the preceding decades.[94]

There was a strong public reaction to the police shooting of Eric Logan

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.[142] 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.[143][144] 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.[145]

In 2020, the website "Best Cities" ranked South Bend number 39 on its list of the 100 best small cities in the United States, giving much credit to the progress made under Buttigieg.[146]

Increased national profile

In the 2016 U.S. Senate election in Indiana, he campaigned on behalf of Democratic Senate nominee Evan Bayh[147] and 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.[148] In the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, Buttigieg endorsed Hillary Clinton.[149] He also endorsed Democratic nominee Lynn Coleman in that year's election for Indiana's 2nd congressional district, which includes South Bend.[150]

In 2016, columnist Frank Bruni of The New York Times published a column praising Buttigieg's work as mayor, with a headline asking if he might be "the first gay president".[151] Additionally, Barack Obama was cited as mentioning him as one of the Democratic Party's talents in a November 2016 profile on the outgoing president conducted by The New Yorker.[152]

By the end of 2017, it had been noted that, as his national profile increased following his run in the 2017 DNC chairmanship election, Buttigieg had increased his out-of-city travel.[153] By the early months of 2018, there was speculation that Buttigieg was looking towards running for either governor or president in the year 2020.[154][155] There was some speculation that, despite a presidential bid being a long shot, he garner enough recognition to become a dark horse contender for the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket.[154]

For the 2018 midterms, Buttigieg founded the political action committee Hitting Home PAC.[156] That October, Buttigieg personally endorsed 21 congressional candidates.[157] He also later endorsed Mel Hall, Democratic nominee in the election for Indiana's 2nd congressional district.[158] Buttigieg also campaigned in support of Joe Donnelly's reelection campaign in the United States Senate election in Indiana.[159] 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.[157] He officially announced his run on January 23, 2019.[160]

Succession as mayor

In December 2018, Buttigieg announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor of South Bend.[161] In February 2019, Buttigieg endorsed James Mueller in the 2019 South Bend mayoral election.[162][163] Mueller was a high-school classmate of Buttigieg's and his mayoral chief of staff, and later executive director of the South Bend Department of Community Investment.[162] Mueller's campaign promised to continue the progress that had been made under Buttigieg's mayoralty.[164] Buttigieg appeared in campaign ads for Mueller and donated to Mueller's campaign.[165] Mueller won the May 2019 Democratic primary with 37% of the vote in a crowded field.[166][162][167] In the November 2019 general election, Mueller defeated Republican nominee Sean M. Haas with 63% of the vote.[168][169] Mueller took office on New Year's Day 2020.[24]

DNC chairmanship campaign

Buttigieg campaigning for DNC chair in 2017

In January 2017, Buttigieg announced his candidacy for chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in its 2017 chairmanship election.[170] 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.[171][172] Buttigieg "campaigned on the idea that the aging Democratic Party needed to empower its millennial members".[171]

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.[171]

2020 presidential campaign

Buttigieg announcing his candidacy for president in 2020 on April 14, 2019

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.[173] Buttigieg sought the Democratic Party nomination for president.[174][175] If he had been elected, he would have been the youngest and first openly gay American president.[173] Buttigieg officially launched his campaign on April 14, 2019, in South Bend.[8][176]

Buttigieg described himself as a progressive and a supporter of democratic capitalism.[177] Historian David Mislin identifies Buttigieg as a pragmatic progressive in the tradition of the Social Gospel movement once strong in the Midwest.[178] Buttigieg identifies regulatory capture as a significant problem in American society.[177] Amid the start of his presidential effort, Buttigieg published his debut book, autobiography Shortest Way Home.

Initially regarded as a long-shot candidate,[179][180][181] Buttigieg rose into the top-tier of candidates in the primary by December 2019.[182] In early February 2020, Buttigieg led the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses results with 26.2% to Bernie Sanders' 26.1%, winning 14 delegates to Sanders's 12.[183][184] The LGBTQ Victory Fund, Buttigieg's first national endorsement,[lower-alpha 3] noted the historical first of an LGBTQ candidate winning a state presidential primary.[185] Buttigieg finished second behind Sanders in the New Hampshire primary.[11] After placing a fourth in the South Carolina primary with 8.2% of the vote, behind Joe Biden (48.7%), Bernie Sanders (19.8%), and Tom Steyer (11.3%); he dropped out of the race on March 1, 2020, and endorsed Biden.[14][15]

Post-presidential campaign

In April 2020, Buttigieg launched Win The Era PAC  a new super PAC to raise money and distribute it to down-ballot Democrats.[186] The PAC focused on local elected positions, and its list of endorsements included candidates such as Jaime Harrison, Cal Cunningham, Gina Ortiz Jones, Christine Hunschofsky, and Levar Stoney.[187] On June 8, 2020, the University of Notre Dame announced that it had hired Buttigieg as a teacher and researcher for the 2020–21 academic year.[188]

Buttigieg acted as a surrogate for Biden's campaign in the general election.[189][190] He delivered a speech on the closing night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention,[191] and also announced Indiana's votes during the convention's roll call.[192] On September 5, 2020, Buttigieg was announced to be a member of the advisory council of the Biden-Harris Transition Team, which was planning the presidential transition of Joe Biden.[193][194] Ahead of the vice presidential debate, Buttigieg played the role as a stand-in for Republican vice president Mike Pence in Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris's debate prep. Buttigieg was selected to do this because of his experience working with Pence during the overlapping time when Buttigieg was serving as mayor and Pence was serving as governor of Indiana.[195]

In October 2020, Buttigieg released his second book, Trust: America's Best Chance.[196]

Secretary of Transportation

Vice President Kamala Harris swears in Buttigieg as Transportation secretary, February 3, 2021

Following the end of his presidential campaign, Buttigieg was considered a possible Cabinet appointee in Joe Biden's administration.[197][198] After Biden was declared the winner of the election on November 7, 2020, Buttigieg was again mentioned as a possible nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador to China or Secretary of Transportation.[199] On December 15, 2020, Biden announced that he would nominate Buttigieg as his Secretary of Transportation.[16] The Senate Commerce Committee advanced Buttigieg's nomination to the full Senate with a vote of 21–3.[200] Buttigieg was confirmed on February 2, 2021, with a vote of 86–13;[201] and was sworn in the next morning.[202]

Buttigieg vists Washington Union Station on his first full day as Secretary of Transportation

In his early acts as secretary, Buttigieg worked on re-organizing the department's internal policy structure, including carrying out a thorough review process of rules enacted under the Trump administration.[203][204]

In late February 2021, Buttigieg addressed the African American Mayors Association to discuss systemic racism. He argued that misguided investments in the federal transport and infrastructure policy had contributed to racial inequity.[205] In early March, Politico noted that Buttigieg had mentioned racial equity in almost every interview he gave to the press as it related to his work at the department.[206]

Early into his tenure, Buttigieg noted that the United States' actions surrounding road traffic safety is lacking and encouraged the improved design of roads. He also encouraged a shift in the policy from decisions based on cars to decisions based on human actions.[207]

In March 2021, Buttigieg indicated he was open to tolls on Interstate 80, but not the tollage of bridges, suggesting "big picture solutions" instead, like a mileage tax.[208][209] The Biden administration, however, did not include a gas tax or mileage tax in the infrastructure plan it released that month.[210]

In late March 2021, Buttigieg informed Congress that the administration was planning to prioritize the construction of the Gateway Rail Tunnel Project due to its economic significance.[211] The progress of the project, which was stalled by President Trump,[212] was announced to be moving faster, according to New York senator, Chuck Schumer. Buttigieg announced the environmental impact assessment of the project - which was largely seen as a sign of major progress in the project.[213]

Buttigieg has served as a promoter of the American Jobs Plan.[214]

On May 19, 2021, Buttigieg reinstated a Obama-era pilot program which ensures local hiring for public works projects, with the goal of helping minorities and disadvantaged individuals. This program had been revoked in 2017 during the Trump administration, when the Department of Transportation (under the leadership of Elaine Chao) moved back to rules established during the Reagan administration, which banned geographic-based hiring preferences.[215]

Political positions

Infrastructure

During his 2020 campaign for the Democratic nomination, Buttigieg proposed spending $1 trillion on U.S. infrastructure projects over the next ten years, estimating that the plan would create at least six million jobs. The plan focused on green energy, 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.[216][217][218]

Social issues

Buttigieg supports abortion rights[219][220] and the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother is in danger.[221] He favors amending civil rights legislation, including the Federal Equality Act so that LGBT Americans receive federal non-discrimination protections.[222]

Buttigieg supports expanding opportunities for national service, including a voluntary year of national service for those turning 18 years old.[223][224][225]

In July 2019, Buttigieg shared his "Douglass Plan", named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, to address systemic racism in America.[226] 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.[227][226]

Buttigieg supports eliminating the death penalty,[228] marijuana legalization,[229] moving toward reversing criminal sentences for minor drug-related offenses,[230] and eliminating incarceration for drug possession offenses.[231]

In 2019, he 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."[232][233]

Voting rights

Buttigieg favors the abolition of the Electoral College[234] and has also called for restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences.[230][235]

Campaign finance reform

He supports a constitutional amendment on campaign finance to reduce the undue influence of money in politics.[236] During his 2020 presidential run in response to accusation of campaign finance concerns Buttigieg's campaign told Newsweek that the candidate does "not accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists, corporate PACs or the fossil fuel industry." In the statement, it was also made known that "Pete has made enacting critical campaign finance reforms part of his campaign platform, including strengthening the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and pushing to overturn Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, if necessary, by a constitutional amendment."[237]

Statehood advocacy

Buttigieg supports statehood for the District of Columbia, and said that he would support Puerto Rico statehood if desired by the Puerto Rican people.[234]

Climate change

Buttigieg at a town hall meeting in Des Moines on October 12, 2019, with supporters holding signs saying "Climate is a Crisis"

During his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Buttigieg stated that, if elected, he would restore the United States' commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and double its pledge to the Green Climate Fund. He also supports the Green New Deal proposed by House Democrats,[238][239] solar panel subsidies, and a carbon tax and dividend policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[240][241]

Economic beliefs

Buttigieg speaking at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention

Buttigieg identifies as a democratic capitalist and has decried crony capitalism.[242] He has entertained the possibility of antitrust actions against large technology companies on the basis of privacy and data security concerns.[243] During the Democratic primary, he supported deficit and debt reduction, arguing that large debt makes it harder to invest in infrastructure, health and safety.[244]

Workers' rights

In July 2019, he released a plan to strengthen union bargaining power, to raise the minimum wage to $15, and to offer national paid family leave.[245]

Education

Buttigieg speaking to the Iowa State Education Association in 2020

Buttigieg's education plan includes a $700 billion investment in universal full-day child care and pre-K for all children from infancy to age 5.[246] Buttigieg also wants to triple Title I funding for schools.[247] Other goals include doubling the amount of new teachers of color in the next 10 years, addressing school segregation with a $500 million fund, paying teachers more, expanding mental health services in schools, and creating more after-school programs and summer learning opportunities.[246]

His plan for debt-free college partially involves expanding Pell Grants for low and middle-income students, as well as other investments and ending Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy.[248] Under his plan, the bottom 80% of students would get free college, with the other 20% paying some or all of the tuition themselves on a sliding scale.[249] Buttigieg opposes free college tuition for all students because he believes it unfairly subsidizes higher-income families at the expense of lower-income people who do not attend college, a position distinguishing him from other progressives who support free college tuition for all.[250]

Foreign policy

Buttigieg speaking with VoteVets.org in 2019

Buttigieg called for modifying the structure of defense spending,[251] while suggesting that he might favor an overall increase in defense spending.[252]

Buttigieg has said that he believes the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks was justified[243] but now supports withdrawing American troops from the region with a maintained intelligence presence.[253] He is a committed supporter of Israel,[254][255] favors a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,[255][256] opposes proposals for Israel to annex the Israeli-occupied West Bank,[255] and disapproves of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments in support of applying Israeli law in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.[257]

In 2008, Buttigieg wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling on the United States to support the de facto independent Republic of Somaliland[258]

In June 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."[259] He supports ending U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.[260]

Buttigieg has condemned China for its mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang.[261] 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.[262]

Health care

Buttigieg opposed Republican efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[123]

In 2018, Buttigieg said he favored Medicare for All.[263] During his presidential campaign, Buttigieg has promoted "Medicare for All Who Want It" (a public option for health insurance).[264][265][266] He has spoken favorably of Maryland's all-payer rate setting.[267] 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.[267][266] 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."[268]

In August 2019, Buttigieg released a $300 billion plan to expand mental health care services and fight addiction.[269][233]

Immigration

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.[270]

Buttigieg has said Trump has been reckless in sending American troops to the southern border, and that it is a measure of last resort.[271]

Personal life

The Cathedral of St. James, which Buttigieg attends

Buttigieg is a Christian,[272][273] and he has said his faith has had a strong influence in his life.[223][274][151] He was baptized in the Catholic Church as an infant and he attended Catholic schools.[273] 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.[273] St. Augustine, James Martin, and Garry Wills are among his religious influences.[274] A member of the Episcopal Church, Buttigieg is a congregant at the Cathedral of St. James in downtown South Bend.[223]

In addition to his native English, Buttigieg has some knowledge of Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari Persian, and French.[275][46] Buttigieg plays guitar and piano,[276][277] and in 2013 performed with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra as a guest piano soloist with Ben Folds.[278][279] Buttigieg was a 2014 Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow.[280]

In a June 2015 piece in the South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg came out as gay.[110] By coming out, Buttigieg became Indiana's first openly gay elected executive.[281][282][283] He was the first elected official in Indiana to come out while in office,[284] and the highest elected official in Indiana to come out.[283] Buttigieg was also the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate, and the second overall, after Republican Fred Karger, who ran in 2012.[285]

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg in 2019

On December 14, 2017, in a post on Facebook, Buttigieg announced his engagement to Chasten Glezman, a junior high school teacher.[286][287] They had been dating since August 2015 after meeting on the dating app Hinge.[28][288] They were married on June 16, 2018, in a private ceremony at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend.[289][273] This made Buttigieg the first mayor of South Bend to get married while in office.[290] Chasten uses his husband's surname, Buttigieg.[291] Buttigieg and his husband plan to have children in the near future, he revealed on The Carlos Watson Show in September 2020.[292]

Awards and honors

In 2015, Buttigieg was a recipient of the Fenn Award, given by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. It was given in recognition of his work as mayor.[293] In June 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, 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".[294] In October 2019, at the Golden Heart Awards, run by God's Love We Deliver, Buttigieg was awarded the "Golden Heart Award for Outstanding Leadership and Public Service".[295] In August 2020, Equality California, an LGBT-rights organization, gave Buttigieg and his husband Chasten their Equality Trailblazer Award.[296] Attitude, an LGBTQ publication, named Buttigieg their Person of the Year in 2020, in recognition of his groundbreaking run for the presidency.[297]

Books

  • Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future. New York: Liveright. 2019. ISBN 9781631494376.
  • Trust: America's Best Chance. New York: Liveright. 2020. ISBN 9781631498770.

Electoral history

Indiana State Treasurer election, 2010[298]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Richard Mourdock (incumbent) 1,053,527 62.46
Democratic Pete Buttigieg 633,243 37.54
Total votes 1,686,770
South Bend mayoral election, 2011 Democratic primary[299]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg 7,663 54.90
Democratic Michael J. Hamann 2,798 20.05
Democratic Ryan Dvorak 2,041 14.62
Democratic Barrett Berry 1,424 10.20
Democratic Felipe N. Merino 32 0.23
Total votes 13,958
South Bend mayoral election, 2011[299]
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 Democratic primary[300][301]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg (incumbent) 8,369 77.68
Democratic Henry L. Davis, Jr. 2,405 22.32
Total votes 10,774
South Bend mayoral election, 2015[300]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Pete Buttigieg (incumbent) 8,515 80.41
Republican Kelly S. Jones 2,074 19.59
Total votes 10,589
Results of the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries[302]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joe Biden 18,448,092 51.5
Democratic Bernie Sanders 9,536,123 26.6
Democratic Elizabeth Warren 2,781,720 7.8
Democratic Michael Bloomberg 2,475,323 6.9
Democratic Pete Buttigieg 913,023 2.6
Democratic Amy Klobuchar 524,559 1.5
Democratic Tulsi Gabbard 270,792 0.8
Democratic Tom Steyer 258,907 0.7
Democratic Andrew Yang 160,416 0.5
Democratic Others 458,477 1.3
Total votes 35,827,432 100.00
2021 United States Senate confirmation to be Secretary of Transportation
February 2, 2021
[303]
Party All votes
Democratic Republican Independent
Yes 48 36 2 86
No 0 13 0 13
Simple majority (51 of 99 votes) required – Nomination confirmed

See also

  • List of Rhodes Scholars

Notes

  1. Sometimes pronounced /-ɛ/ -jej or /-ʌ/ -juj, but not by Buttigieg himself.
  2. Richard Grenell, who is also gay, was nominated Acting Director of National Intelligence by President Donald Trump in 2020; however, Director of National Intelligence is not part of the Cabinet but rather a Cabinet-level office. For more information, see Cabinet of the United States.
  3. He was endorsed in June 2019 on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

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