For Mayor Pete’s Presidential Aspirations, It May Well Be Now or Never

For Mayor Pete’s Presidential Aspirations, It May Well Be Now or Never

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Janet Ybarra
Democrat
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Pete Buttigieg has consistently punched above his weight throughout his run for president.

Out on the campaign trail and up on the debate stage, this mayor of small-town South Bend, Ind., has often more than held his own against rivals with substantially more experience in the federal arena.

And in an election cycle thick with Democratic presidential hopefuls, Buttigieg has been rewarded by often finding himself in the second candidate tier–right behind front-runners Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.


Of course, as they say, close only is only good enough in horse shoes. And Buttigieg will tell you this is no game.

As summer has turned to fall, debate after debate and public opinion poll after public opinion poll, Mayor Pete has continued to impress but, by and large, has failed to turn that effort into the ability to lay claim as a genuine Tier 1 front-runner alongside Biden, Warren or Sanders.

This, in turn, has begun the whispers which say, “Perhaps now isn’t Mayor Pete’s time. But he’s young. He will have another bite at the apple.”

These are kind–but not necessarily true–words.

Why not? After all, at 37, doesn’t Buttigieg have his entire life ahead of him?

Indeed he does, but that life is not necessarily full and open of future political opportunities. He has already foresworn a try for a third term at South Bend city hall.

As even a moderate progressive who happens to not only be an out gay man but a married out gay man, I’m not certain that many other political doors would be open to him in red-state Indiana in the interim with which Buttigieg could use to stay relevant to the national political conversation, rather than simply recede into the fog of failed presidential candidates.

Frankly, that calculus is prompting me to reevaluate my personal look at which Democrat to support for the nomination. I may well come down to Mayor Pete because he has been overall impressive, punching above his weight while I do readily acknowledge his mistakes and missteps.

In 2008, it seemed to be the moment for Barack Obama–do or die. And it ultimately lent a certain urgency to his insurgent campaign that year against Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps Mayor Pete faces the same forces this year.

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