By Monica Vitting
On April 14, The New York Times reported that Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, officially announced his 2020 campaign for president. If elected, the 37-year-old would be the youngest president in U.S. history.
South Bend was hit hard by the recession, having once been an industrial powerhouse. In 2011, South Bend was put on Newsweek’s list of dying American cities. Buttigieg, who took office in 2012, claims to have helped the city recover from a struggling economy, according to The New York Times.
Out of the former presidents, Buttigieg has the most military experience since George H. W. Bush, according to The New York Times. Buttigieg, an openly gay man, would also be the first openly gay American president.
In addition to those potential milestones, Buttigieg raised $1 million within four hours of his campaign announcement, CNBC reported. The latest poll revealed that Buttigieg filled the “No. 3 slot with 9 percent” and is right behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt.
Buttigieg identifies as a political progressive and, as a millennial himself, his message is “to claim leadership of millennial Americans.” He has not officially released his proposed policies, but he has appeared in various interviews on television describing the need to address “‘the business end’ of climate change.” In his announcement speech, Buttigieg championed many progressive values such as healthcare for all, racial justice and consumer protection.
Buttigieg does face a few challenges. He lacks a deep political record, his highest office having been mayor of Vermont’s fourth largest city. However, Buttigieg counters this point by referencing John F. Kennedy, who was also once seen as too young for office, as reported by CBS.
According to The New York Times, Buttigieg’s record as a two-term mayor has started to raise some questions. Buttigieg’s campaign campaign relies on his assertion of “reversing economic free fall in South Bend, once an industrial powerhouse that in 2011 was named by Newsweek one of America’s top 10 ‘dying cities.’”
Black and Hispanic residents of South Bend, who represent 40 percent of the city’s population, feel left out and have not “benefited from the city’s post-recession growth,” The New York Times reported.
Regina Williams-Preston, who is running in municipal elections to replace Buttigieg, stated that it’s hard for her to “‘say this is a turnaround city.’”
The New York Times reported that Preston said that she is looking forward to the change, including the black and Hispanic community, as well as the impoverished. However, she stated that “prosperity has not flowed equally. ‘Over half the people in our community who are working — it’s their dollars that you’re investing — are not feeling a return on their investment.’”
Buttigieg is joining a large pool of 19 Democratic candidates. Since announcing his 2020 campaign, he has been covered heavily by the press and has appeared on CBS within the past week. Although Buttigieg has not released his proposed policies, many have already showed their allegiance to him through donations.