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Can We Take a Minute to Talk about Mayor Pete?

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 18, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 18, 2019 |


This morning, we learned that Beto O’Rourke barrelled out of the gate as far as fundraising is concerned and raised $6.1 million in his first 24 hours as a Democratic Presidential candidate, which is better than even Bernie Sanders’ $5.9 million in the first day (third on that list is Kamala Harris, who raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours). He wasn’t raking in millions of dollars, but one candidate managed to pull off a feat that could also make a huge difference in the 2020 race.

Pete Buttigieg now has enough donors to be invited to the first DNC debate, and if you don’t think that’s a big deal, you probably haven’t heard him speak yet.

He’s very good. I concede that I didn’t know that much about him until a few weeks ago, aside from what I’d heard from Lainey (our Lainey), who lives in Indiana and often raves about Mayor Pete. But that bandwagon is growing. Another one of my favorite people on the planet (and a former colleague), Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson has been talking him up on social media for the last few days, too.

I also went to a small dinner party over the weekend and met a delightful woman who had just listened to a Mayor Pete podcast, and was absolutely smitten with him. It’s easy to understand why. He is the gay, millennial real-life Jed Bartlett.

There was a piece in the New Yorker last month about Mayor Pete that is very, very good, but there was one passage that really stuck out for me.

Coming out while he was mayor also helped emphasize to him the political importance of meeting people where they were. He mentioned an older woman in South Bend who had greeted him after a public event by saying how impressed she was with his “friend.” This could have been a moment to discuss the difference between a friend and a partner, or how important it is not to be euphemistic about love, but Buttigieg decided against it, because the woman obviously felt so good about recognizing his “friend”—for her, this was progress. “So much of politics is about people’s relationships with themselves,” Buttigieg said. “You do better if you make people feel secure in who they are.”

I don’t know why, but there’s something about that positive approach — making people feel secure in who they are, rather than shaming them — that I found particularly appealing.

Mayor Pete is 37 years old. He graduated from Harvard. He’s a Rhodes Scholar. He’s a veteran of the Afghan war. He’s smart as hell; he’s articulate; he’s a first generation immigrant. Both of his parents were professors at Notre Dame. He’d also become the first openly gay President of the United States, and for a number of those reasons, he’s not afraid of President Trump.

He also only came out of the closet a few years ago, ahead of his re-election campaign on the advice of his now husband. He won 80 percent of the vote. His husband, a middle-school teacher, is also pretty great.

He’s progressive but pragmatic, and a supporter of the Green New Deal.

And he is intelligent. Good lord, is he brilliant.

Recall how Trump responds to horrific tragedies — with a perfunctory “best wishes” tweet that he’ll immediately follow-up with another tweet casting blame everywhere else but himself. Here’s how Mayor Pete responds to horrific tragedies (and try not to cry):

The guy is gold, y’all. He can even play piano, as he does here in concert with Ben Folds.

I’m keeping an open mind about 2020, as we all should. I don’t know if he’s the guy I’ll ultimately vote for, but I love this guy. He is definitely in the mix, and based on what I’ve learned about him in the last week, he’s jumped to the top two for me, if only for the opportunity to see him eviscerate Donald Trump in a debate (or Mike Pence in a VP debate).