Pete Buttigieg... dark horse 2020 contender?

So who’s ready for President Pete Buttigieg?

If you’re looking at that picture, reading that name and asking yourself… “who?” you’re not alone. I had to go look it up myself and I have to read about this stuff for a living. But as it turns out, he’s the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and he’s been making the rounds in South Carolina and other early voting states, making his pitch to have people consider him for the job of President. At 37 years old and with a national name recognition rating somewhere in the range of zero, he’s probably not on anybody’s list of frontrunners. But the Washington Post seems to think there’s just something about the guy that might give him a chance.

A regular human being might not be looking quite so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed under the circumstances. But “normal” and “regular” are not adjectives that apply to the son of a Maltese immigrant father and an Army brat mom who grew up in decaying South Bend, got himself into Harvard, summer-interned for Ted Kennedy, worked for John Kerry’s presidential campaign, won a Rhodes Scholarship, learned Arabic in Tunisia, landed a jet-setting consultant’s job, left it to return to his beat-up hometown and become the youngest mayor of a midsize U.S. city, transformed that city into a national model of renewal, and then — deep breath — volunteered for active duty in Afghanistan while serving as mayor, came out as gay in the local newspaper, married a schoolteacher live on YouTube, turned heads in a dark-horse bid to lead the Democratic National Committee, and had the New York Times’s Frank Bruni gushing about him as potentially the “First Gay President”— all by age 36.

Buttigieg, in fact, appears intent on proving Bruni right far sooner than the columnist might have expected; he’s currently making all the moves one would expect from an about-to-declare 2020 candidate. But he won’t be hinging his long-shot bid on the prospect of being the first openly gay president. Instead, he’ll be running as the herald of a new generation.

The only other time Buttigieg’s name has cropped up here was when he lost his bid for DNC chair in 2017. (And even there he was considered a dark horse candidate.) And being 37 years of age only rarely vaults you into the lead for national positions of power in politics, no matter which party you’re from. But is there more here than meets the eye?

First of all, when it comes to demographics, this guy is a very nearly a Democrat’s dream package, at least on paper. While he looks and sounds pretty white, he’s the child of immigrants from Malta. (That counts, right?) On top of that, he’s gay, an Afghanistan veteran and a millennial. All he’s missing is a pair of ovaries.

But let’s face it… you can go through any meeting of the local social justice committee and find someone who ticks most of those boxes. But Buttigieg might have something else that will give him a leg up if he can manage to secure enough air time for the political press to take more notice. He’s got a pretty good delivery when addressing a crowd. This is a Ted Talk he gave about his vision to turn around the economic fortunes of South Bend. I have to admit, he may not be Barack Obama but he can engage a crowd.

Does this mean he stands a chance? Probably not. It’s already a massively crowded field with a bunch of big name entries already in the running. But you may want to keep an eye on him for the future. He could turn out to be a dangerous candidate down the line.