Students react to Mayor Pete’s bid for presidency
Thomas Murphy | Thursday, February 14, 2019
Just over three weeks ago, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election. Buttigieg, who grew up in South Bend and whose parents were both professors at Notre Dame, would break several barriers if he were to win the presidency, as he would become the youngest elected president, as well as the nation’s first openly gay president.
While Buttigieg looks to succeed on the national stage, he is most familiar to students at Notre Dame as the charismatic “Mayor Pete.” Senior Jack Grogan, president of the Notre Dame College Democrats, said he was excited when he first learned that Buttigieg had announced his bid.
“I think Pete would be a fantastic candidate, fantastic president,” Grogan said. “It’s very exciting. I mean he got a lot of good press coverage and a lot of good traction early on, so I was excited to see that happen and see those interviews go as well as they did.”
Alternatively, Grant Strobl, a law student and committeeman of the 14th District Republicans, said that Buttigieg’s announcement exemplifies the Democratic Party’s chaotic identity crisis as they approach the 2020 election season.
“My first reaction is, evidently, the Democratic Party is very un-united and in search of literally anybody who might even have the slightest of chance to win in the general election,” Strobl said. “It seems like they seem to be struggling in finding anybody to take that position, and it seems kind of interesting that they’re looking at a mayor of a struggling Midwest city to lead their party. … It’s definitely evidence that the Democrats are having a hard time choosing someone who will fair well against President Trump.”
Grogan, who has previously interned for Buttigieg’s campaign and administration, said the mayor’s track record in South Bend is proven in the residents’ affection for him.
“I started my freshman fall semester working on his reelection campaign, and what was immediately clear from that campaign onward has just been the overwhelming love for him among South Bend residents,” he said. “I don’t think I made a single call on my campaign where I heard something negative about the mayor.”
Because Buttigieg comes from a small, Midwestern city with minimal national exposure, Grogan said that the debates will be vital to his ability to garner supporters, especially among younger voters.
“It’s a crowded field, no doubt about it,” Grogan said. “I think that debates are going to be important for a guy like Pete to be able to make a national audience aware of who he is. … I think there’s definitely a window of opportunity for him to make a voice for himself. I think another thing is he’s definitely pitching himself as the millennial candidate, and I think that direct appeal to young people that he particularly is apt to succeed in because he is a young person himself.”
Strobl said Buttigieg has yet to distinguish himself among a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls, so what Buttigieg includes in his platform will be important to his success.
“I’m actually interested in seeing his original ideas because it seems like right now all of the democratic candidates are following suit on this terrible idea of Medicare for all,” Strobl said. “I’d be curious to see if he has any real, original ideas instead of falling in line with everybody else and what they’re now saying.”
Though the College Democrats are excited to see a candidate they are familiar with, Grogan emphasized that the club does not endorse a presidential candidate during the primaries.
The Notre Dame College Republicans did not respond to a request for comment.