SOUTH BEND — On Thursday, Jan. 5, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially entered the race to become the next national chairman of the Democratic Party.
The decision comes just 13 months after Buttigieg won re-election as South Bend mayor. He’ll continue running the city while running for the national position.
“My most important responsibility is my responsibility as mayor of the city and I will make sure that that is not compromised,” Buttigieg said at a midafternoon press conference. “It’s not unlike the campaign that I ran for re-election. I was a candidate, I was also a mayor, we did both of those things at the same time with two different teams working in parallel.”
In about seven weeks, city residents will find out if their mayor is staying or going. “Look, I’m coming into this as an underdog. There are seven weeks of campaigning and only in the event that I win would I then set a date to step aside,” Mayor Buttigieg said.
The fact that Buttigieg is a local official is key to his campaign for a national position. Buttigieg says the Democratic Party has lost its relevance and he has a bottom up plan to regain it.
“We need to rebuilt piece by piece especially in the unglamorous work of those county and city and state offices before we’re even able to really guide the kind of national movement that will bring about good results in the White House.”
Buttigieg is among six candidates now vying for the chairman’s post. The list also includes former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.
“I have the perspective of a mayor, a local official, somebody from a newer generation in the middle of the country and I think I can offer something based on that experience,” Buttigieg said.
On Feb. 26, 447 Democratic Party committee members from across the country and world will gather in Atlanta to elect a new chair. Before that, candidate forums will be held in Phoenix, Houston, Detroit and Baltimore.
“The reason I’m getting into this is deeply rooted in my experience right here in South Bend,” Buttigieg explained. “I feel that the future direction of the party and the future direction of the country would be well served if more people were thinking about the experiences of a community like ours. This is a city where a candidate can run and win based on results, where people within the Democratic Party and outside of it don’t have to be divided, where we can move forward in a way that is both motivated and animated by our values, and at the same time also made possible by serious organizing on the ground.”
John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, released the following statement after Buttigieg made his announcement.
“November’s election made one point very clear – the Midwest and the issues important to this region should never be ignored. More attention must be made to growing wages for the hardworking middle-class, investing in training programs that are needed to bridge a skills gap, and bringing a Hoosier Common Sense approach to solving important issues like equality. With investments in things like community development, job creation, and infrastructure during his time as Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg has the capability of bringing a much-needed Midwest voice to the Democratic Party that will resonate across the country. Pete is a young and dynamic talent that we need at the top of our party, and I am happy to support a Hoosier for DNC Chair. I encourage my fellow DNC members to get to know Mayor Pete Buttigieg over the next seven weeks.”
Visit Buttigieg’s campaign website at petefordnc.com