Rhodes Scholar. Decorated veteran. Presidential candidate. And now the first openly gay Cabinet secretary in United States history. Is there anything Pete Buttigieg can’t do? The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 39, was named President Joe Biden‘s Transportation Secretary, ushering in a new era of American politics. Here’s what else you need to know about him:
Pete Buttigieg’s Transportation Secretary Confirmation
The Senate confirmed Buttigieg as transportation secretary on February 2, making him the country’s first LGBTQ Cabinet secretary. The role of transportation secretary is expected to play a larger role than usual in Biden’s administration, as the president pushes for a bipartisan infrastructure package. Shortly after his confirmation, Buttigieg tweeted: “I’m honored and humbled by today’s vote in the Senate—and ready to get to work @USDOT.”
Pete Ran For President Against Joe Biden In 2020
“I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now,” Buttigieg said in his presidential run announcement. We’re the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11, and we’re the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents unless we do something different… We can’t just polish off a system so broken. It is a season for boldness and a focus on the future.” He dropped out of the race in March 2020 after a loss in the South Carolina primary.
The loss led to Buttigieg cancelling plans for back-to-back appearances in Texas, which he addressed in a speech hinting at his concession. “We’re going to be making an announcement there about the future of the campaign and we are looking forward to sharing with our supporters and with the country where we’re going from here. That is why you will find we are heading in a different direction.” A Buttigieg staffer then confirmed that he would be announcing the suspension of his campaign, stating that he “doesn’t want to move on.” After he dropped, Buttigieg focused his time on campaigning for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Pete Was The 1st Openly Gay Mayor Of South Bend, Indiana
He launched an exploratory committee for the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 22. If he were to have won the Democratic nomination, he would have been the first-ever gay nominee. Buttigieg married his husband, Chasten Glezman, last summer, according to the Chicago Tribune. At the time, he was youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents. Buttigieg announced in Dec. 2018 that he was not going to seek a third term as the mayor of South Bend, his hometown, fueling speculation that he was going to run for a higher office.
Since first taking office as mayor, he has helped take South Bend to new heights. “When I arrived in office at the beginning of this decade, the national press said that our city was dying,” he said in his presidential run announcement video. “People on the outside didn’t believe our city had a future.” He also added, “We propelled our city’s comeback by taking our eyes off the rearview mirror, being honest about change, and insisting on a better future.”
Pete Is An Afghanistan War Veteran
Buttigieg joined the US Navy Reserve in 2009 as an intelligence officer. Buttigieg was placed on active duty and deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in 2014, while he was still Mayor of South Bend. He jokingly referred to his role in the war as “military Uber” because he had to watch for ambushes and explosives along the roads and guard vehicles. Buttigieg received the Joint Service Commendation Medal when back in the US; he resigned from the Reserves in 2017.
I launched a presidential exploratory committee because it is a season for boldness and it is time to focus on the future. Are you ready to walk away from the politics of the past?
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 23, 2019
Pete Speaks Seven Foreign Languages
Buttigieg is a highly gifted polyglot. Along with his native English, Buttigieg speaks (or has an understanding of) seven different foreign languages: Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari (Farsi), and French. He told The New York Times during his presidential run that he actually taught himself Norwegian while at Harvard because he wanted to read books in the language by author Erlend Loe.