South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is scheduled to hold what his staff is calling a “meet and greet” Thursday evening in West Hollywood.
The event planned for two hours is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Bar Lubitsch on Santa Monica Boulevard. Admission is free.
Buttigieg also has a series of private meetings planned during his second visit to Southern California since his Jan. 23 announcement that he has formed an exploratory committee to study a possible presidential campaign, according to his communications adviser Lis Smith.
This visit comes five days after Buttigieg appeared on a CNN town hall at South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, drawing praise from a variety of sources in politics and entertainment.
“I have rarely seen a candidate make better use of televised Town Hall than @PeteButtigieg is on @CNN tonight,” David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, tweeted on Sunday. “Crisp, thoughtful and relatable. He’ll be a little less of a long shot tomorrow.”
Emmy-winning actor Bradley Whitford tweeted, “Every time out,@PeteButtigieg crushes it. Every. Time.”
Original “Star Trek” cast member George Takei, who unsuccessfully sought a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 1973, described Buttigieg in a tweet as “a fresh voice whose star is rising fast.”
The 37-year-old Buttigieg is seeking to get contributions from 65,000 people, including at least 200 per state in 20 states, to meet a threshold set by the Democratic National Committee to qualify for debates planned for June and July. He reported Wednesday that he had contributions from more than 55,000 people.
Buttigieg has not officially announced his candidacy because “he is not a household name, like many of the Democrats looking at the 2020 race, so he’s testing the waters in the truest sense of the term,” Smith told City News Service.
“He’s exploring how his message of generational change is resonating, as well as his ability to build a national campaign,” Smith said. “All the signs have been very promising since he announced his exploratory committee.”
Buttigieg was elected in 2011 when he was 29 and re-elected in 2015 as mayor of South Bend, which has a population of about 102,000 and is best known as the home of Notre Dame University.
During his first four-year term, Buttigieg introduced the “1000 Homes in 1000 Days” initiative, which demolished or repaired abandoned homes throughout the city. Projects during his second term include a “Smart Streets” initiative to create safer, more appealing streets while creating a more vibrant downtown and record spending on parks and trails.
Buttigieg was born and raised in South Bend, received a degree in history and literature from Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar, receiving a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Oxford.
Buttigieg was an officer in U.S. Navy Reserve from 2009-17, taking a leave of absence as mayor in 2014 to serve a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan, receiving the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his counterterrorism work.
If elected, Buttigieg would be the nation’s first openly gay president; the youngest — breaking the record of Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he succeeded the assassinated William McKinley in 1901; and the first born in the 1980s.
Buttigieg is among three active or potential candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination to visit the Los Angeles area in a six-day span.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand conducted fundraisers in Beverly Hills and Hancock Park on Saturday and Sunday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met Monday with residents of a Malibu Hills mobile home park devastated in the Woolsey Fire.
Gillibrand has also announced the formation of exploratory committee but not declared her candidacy. Inslee declared his candidacy March 1
Buttigieg was also in the region in late February to discuss his new book “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future” before a sold-out audience at Scripps College in Claremont, hold “a number of meetings for fundraising and political purposes” and do “a few media interviews,” including for the Pod Save America podcast, Smith said.
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