In the two months since he announced his 2020 presidential campaign with a video that highlights northern Indiana’s majestically flat landscape, Mayor Pete — or Pete Buttigieg, if we’re being formal — has risen to surprising prominence as an extremely Midwestern candidate with innumerable surprising qualities. He casually speaks seven languages. While some on Twitter have questioned his reading of Ulysses, the man loves James Joyce. Hell, major news outlets have deemed him a legitimate presidential candidate, and he’s received the necessary number of donations to be at the Democratic National Committee debate in June, and we’ve all still collectively decided to call him Mayor Pete.
But when it comes to the unavoidable important details about him — as in, his political platform — what do we really know? Below, here’s everything to know about Mayor Pete.
He hails from the same state as Mike Pence.
While their politics do not align, Buttigieg, too, is a born-and-raised Hoosier. Since 2012, he has served as mayor of South Bend, during which he has drawn creative businesses to the city, revitalized blighted properties, and prioritized smarter infrastructure. (During his mayoral tenure, Buttigieg was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months.) Even before he stepped onto the national stage, he caught the attention of some bigger news outlets: The Washington Post named (and negged) him the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of” in 2014.
He ran for Democratic National Committee chair.
People across the country first began trying to learn how to pronounce Buttigieg’s last name in January 2017, when he announced his candidacy for chair of the Democratic National Committee. During his run, he demanded that Democrats take millenials seriously. And then, when it became clear to him on voting day that he could not pull a win off, he stepped down.
“It looks like I’m not going to be the next chair,” Buttigeig said. “But whoever is, I am urging to do the things that must be done to be open to change, to look beyond Washington, to not treat the presidency like it’s the only office that matters, to pay attention to communities like ours in the heart of our country — not as an exotic species — but as your fellow Americans.”
He would break (at least) two records were he to be elected.
He would not only be the first gay president (who would be wed to the first-ever “first gentleman“), but he would also be the youngest. Buttigieg is a mere 37 years old, which technically makes him a millenial — just on the older side.
His husband’s social media presence is lovely.
Buttigieg first met his now-husband Chasten Glezman — also, talk about two great names — in 2015, when they hit it off over a shared love of Scotch eggs. Per their New York Times wedding announcement, Glezman is a junior-high-school teacher, meaning he spends a lot of time with teens, also meaning he must have a sense of humor. (He does.)
He wrote a winning Profiles in Courage essay about Bernie Sanders.
In 2000, when he was 18 years old, Buttigieg praised Sanders for bravely identifying as a socialist, especially “in a country where Communism is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and Socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with Communism.” He went on:
Sanders’ positions on many difficult issues are commendable, but his real impact has been as a reaction to the cynical climate which threatens the effectiveness of the democratic system. His energy, candor, conviction, and ability to bring people together stand against the current of opportunism, moral compromise, and partisanship which runs rampant on the American political scene. He and few others like him have the power to restore principle and leadership in Congress and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism. Above all, I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption.
(Also, it’s extremely worth your time to click into this link to see an old photo of young Mayor Pete.)
But his political platform has some gaps.
Buttigieg has spoken quite a bit about what he did for South Bend during his two mayoral terms, but less so about what policies he’d enact as president. We know, as he recently told Esquire, that “he [believes] in capitalism as long as there’s a strong rule of law around it.” He has avoided responding concretely to questions about reparations. While slightly skeptical, he says he backs the Green New Deal. He has proposed a gradual shift to a single-payer health-care system, saying he supports “medicare for all who want it.”
While he has dodged questions about specific his stance on abortion, in April 2018, he blocked a change in a zoning law that would’ve allowed a crisis pregnancy center — a religiously affiliated, anti-abortion organization that masquerades as women’s health clinic — to move in next to a proposed abortion provider. He also has not spoken out about what sort of paid family leave policy he would want to enact as president, but in September 2017, he introduced a policy that gave 6 weeks paid family leave to city employees.
One point is clear, though: He’s pretty damn popular.