SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As the number of contenders wanting to challenge President Trump in 2020 continues to grow, a Hoosier mayor is also toying with the idea of making a run for the White House.
Last weekend, CBS4 caught up with Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend) ahead of a release party for his new book.
“Mayor Pete,” as he’s known around South Bend, has held that title since 2012. He’s now considering whether that experience could propel him to the White House.
“I think it’s very important to show what that intimate, local level might mean for the bigger picture,” said Buttigieg.
As the latest Hoosier to consider a run at national politics, Buttigieg, a Navy reserve veteran and an openly gay politician, might bring a fresh face to the political field. But he’s not a household name. That is a fact he’s quick to admit, as higher-profile candidates continue to declare.
“The wider the field, I think the more it favors underdogs and newcomers,” said Buttigieg. “I am very aware that I am both of those things.”
Outside political experts say a lack of name recognition could prove to be a challenge for the 37-year-old mayor.
“One of the things he has to be able to do is convince folks that his local government experience as mayor of a good-sized city, but nonetheless still the mayor of a city, would translate well into the presidency,” said University of Indianapolis political science professor Dr. Laura Wilson.
But Buttigieg believes a mayor’s eye for detail is exactly what Washington, D.C. needs.
“It would really be a win if places like the U.S. Congress looked a little more like our local problem solvers did,” said Buttigieg.
And in looking at the current field, although still early, some experts say Buttigieg’s Midwest roots might also play to his favor.
“You see people that are either from the west coast or the east coast,” said Wilson. “There aren’t as many candidates, at least right now, from the Midwest, and that’s clearly a benefit to him.”
Buttigieg is also hoping South Bend’s story, from its fall as a manufacturing boomtown to its recent revival, might also entice voters ahead of 2020.
“I tried to use South Bend’s story as an example of how the past and the future can relate,” said Buttigieg.