Pete Buttigieg makes waves in Democratic primaries

epa07970534 South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a campaign event in Decorah, Iowa, 02 November 2019 (Issued 03 November 2019). The Iowa Caucus occurs in three months on 03 February 2020. EPA-EFE/GARY HE

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This article by Matthew Bugeja appeared first on the Corporate Dispatch Weekly Geopolitical journal ‘Diplomatique.Expert’ published on November 16th 2019. 

Let me start off by saying to all those who have followed my views on Mayor Pete over the past few months – I may have been wrong about him, but… we are still some way off from knowing for sure.

Many on our shores, particularly the more academic and politically nerdy amongst us, are excited about Pete Buttigieg’s ascent to the top tier of the race for the Democratic primaries. To think that a young man whose father was born and raised in Malta could potentially win the Democratic nomination and face off against Donald Trump in the election campaign next fall is an exciting prospect. This is not to say that all Maltese are enamored by Mayor Pete, particularly amongst the more conservative demographics who associate him with abortion rights. In any case, what is certain is that his rise from being mayor of a relatively small town in Indiana to being mentioned in the same sentence as Democratic heavyweights such as Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is an excellent feat for a man half their age.

I have been asked a lot about Mayor Pete. What are his chances of winning the Democratic Primary? Can he beat Biden, Sanders, Warren and the rest? My answer initially was quite simply: I don’t think so. Not because I think he is a poor candidate, or that his message is less appealing – but because I took a number of factors into consideration. For example:

  1. Most of those in the Democratic Primaries have decades of political experience,
  2. A number of those candidates had years of experience in the US Senate, which is often a natural launchpad for President, given that they would have “name/brand recognition”,
  3. The more well-known candidates had infrastructure and experienced political operatives on the ground in key states from early on, due in part to the fact that they had experience from previous Presidential elections, or were able to access these resources through their extensive Washington D.C. network,
  4. Mayor Pete was barely known in his state, much less in the nation as a whole.
  5. Other candidates began with considerable funding and access to lists of supporters across the country, which helped to boost their campaign finances.

So, when I was asked as to how well Pete could do, I said that I thought that Pete Buttigieg was positioning himself as a viable Vice Presidential candidate to any one of the eventual winners. As an ex-military veteran, a homosexual, and a midwesterner, he would be an excellent addition to any Presidential ticket and would help to garner a considerable amount of votes on his own.

Well, it seems that Pete Buttigieg is doing better than many expected, not least myself. But as I have written elsewhere in the past – and as I have tempered my friends in recent months – it is too early to tell. There are still some 17 candidates in the running for the nomination. Close to a dozen of them will know that they do not have a chance if they do not make some serious inroads by the end of this year. As the distance between the front runners and the bottom tier candidates solidifies, their lower levels of campaign donations will be insufficient to continue.

The first Democratic primaries are in Iowa on 3rd February 2020, followed by New Hampshire, where Mayor Pete has been polling well on both accounts, currently in first and second place, respectively. This bodes well for the young candidate. But now, Pete is also entering a trickier phase of his campaign – coming under attack from his fellow candidates.

Senator Amy Klobuchar was amongst the first to ring the bell for the opening season on Buttigieg, saying that he lacks the Washington experience of most other candidates, and is less qualified than most women in the race. Not completely unjustified, but also coloured with a hint of envy, certainly. Her campaign has failed to hit strong strides, and she finds herself in the lower second tier of candidates, which puts her in danger of falling out of the race in the next few months.

Buttigieg has yet to face any serious attacks from the more prominent candidates, like Biden, Sanders or Warren, which is a sign that they do not yet think he presents a grave threat to their bids. However, if they all begin to gang up on him, it will be a good sign for his campaign, because that means they are going in the right direction – but it also means that it will be a significant test of both character and staying power. These are seasoned veterans, and being in the lead at this stage of the campaign means that in order to win it all, Pete needs to stay there. That gives his opponents more time to find  and target weaknesses in his character, strategy, and campaign infrastructure to surpass him once again.

Pete’s finances have been excellent in the past six months or so, rivalling a number of other top tier candidates. He will certainly have a warchest going into the spring stretch of the campaign.

But if he is going to make it to the top, and stay there, he will have to learn how to defend his message from people he respects in the Democratic Party. He will also have to be savvy enough to pick up support from well-known candidates who drop out. He will have to show composure and tact under pressure to a degree he has not had to at this stage.

Politics is not just about having the right message. It is also about strategy. If Pete wants to make it to the White House, he will need wisdom, endurance, and vision, along with strong funding and on-the-ground infrastructure. The Democratic primary will be a bruising battle, but in comparison to a presidential campaign against a President Trump who had been under investigation for impeachment? It’s not even close. Buckle up Pete, it’s going to be a long ride.

This article by Matthew Bugeja appeared first on the Corporate Dispatch Weekly Geopolitical journal ‘Diplomatique.Expert’ published on November 16th 2019. 

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