BY BRIANNA BECERRA
The race for the 2020 Democratic nomination has been heating up in Iowa and all across the nation as voters and caucus-goers prepare to fight for their candidate of choice. Out of the original twenty nine candidates that announced their run for the Oval Office, only nine remain. Pete Buttigieg emerges as top tier contender with a strong showing in the Iowa Caucus.
Thirty eight year old Buttigieg is a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and announced his candidacy in April 2019. He is a graduate of Harvard University as well as a veteran of the Navy, surviving a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. This man is also challenging the precedent of the presidency by being the first openly gay Democratic candidate.
Buttigieg’s friends and family have described him as an intelligent, genuine young man with a passion for politics. Close friend and mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, has thrown every ounce of her support behind Buttigieg’s campaign. She told a personal story about how he taught himself Hebrew in a week, demonstrating his intelligence level.
“He is the smartest person I’ve ever met,” said Whaley. “He is just so darn smart.”
Buttigieg’s mother-in-law, Sherri Glezman, has been along the ride for the entirety of his campaign. She spoke about how heartwarming it has been to see the support for Buttigieg grow and the outpouring of love that her son, Chasten, has received as well.
“The best thing about it is to see the rest of America fall in love with Chasten and Pete as much as we’ve been in love with them already for years,” said Glezman.
Buttigieg’s campaign has placed an emphasis on values that extend far beyond policy and legislation. Campaign volunteers called the Barnstormers have distributed cards that carry the “Rules of the Road” of his platform: respect, belonging, truth, teamwork, boldness, responsibility, substance, discipline, excellence and joy. These adjectives match up with the words that friends and family have used to described him, confirming the true character of Pete Buttigieg.
His lack of experience in D.C. has caused an uproar of doubt, as some believe that a mayor is incapable of being promoted to the President of the United States. Whaley comes to bat for her friend again, stating that the critics simply do not understand what it takes to be a mayor.
“I think that mayor to president is the best jump,” argued Whaley. “He knows how important community is. His policies are really about giving more support to local communities.”
The policies that Buttigieg has prioritized include equal justice for all, health sector reforms, strengthening the middle class and lessening the effects of climate change. These ideas label him as a moderate Democrat.
His February 2 rally at a local Des Moines high school was filled to max capacity with volunteers and supporters. The energy was unlike any other candidate’s rally, as his most fervent fans had the privilege of standing in the risers behind the stage. They decked themselves from head to toe in “Pete 2020” gear and led chants while frantically waving their signs.
During Buttigieg’s rally, he set aside a time to answer questions from the crowd. Anna Wolfinger, Wadsworth High School senior, had her question drawn from the fishbowl overflowing with other inquiries from fans. Her question was in regards to his plans to address climate change.
“We need an actual national project to confront climate change,” answered Buttigieg. “This cannot be a political tug-of-war. This is too important and existential.”
At the conclusion of the rally, some family and friends joined Buttigieg on stage to thank his supporters. Chasten and Pete then made their rounds, greeting and snapping pictures with fans. Not only was the crowd looking forward to meeting the presidential candidate, but his husband as well.
“I feel like a Jonas Brother,” remarked Chasten Buttigieg while greeting a fan.
While he was meeting supporters, Pete Buttigieg took the time for a quick interview led by Chris Steele, another Wadsworth High School senior. Steele was in awe of the humility of Buttigieg, as he had not expected him to be willing to answer his question about the importance of young voters.
“Here is my outreach and my message to younger generations,” responded Buttigieg. “The longer you are going to be here, the more stake you have in the choices that are going to be made around climate, around gun violence, and around making sure the economy works for us. We have to make sure we are acting now. We are running out of time and we need to build a multi-generation coalition. You need to spread the message and be part of that change.”
As Buttigieg’s support continues to grow, his family’s pride in him and his work grows as well. Sherri Glezman expressed her endless love and admiration for her son-in-law, remarking that he has earned all of the recognition that he has been given.
“To see everybody else follow their kindness, how humble they are, to have everybody else also join in on that bandwagon,” said Glezman. “That’s been the most wonderful thing about it so far.”
The so-called underdog of the 2020 election has proven to have a sturdy base of supporters, as he won a top spot in the first caucus of the election season. There is no telling where Buttigieg will go from here, but that this monumental ranking gives him a seat as a top contender for the Democratic nomination.