Buttigieg’s campaign assistants: where are they now?
- Pete for America had over 500 employees. Many now work for President Joe Biden.
- Seventeen former Buttigieg campaign assistants serve in the White House and five work on Capitol Hill.
- We’re keeping an eye out for dozens of Buttigieg’s aides as they spill over into government and beyond.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
In Joe Biden’s Washington, having a “Pete for America” role on your resume involves some type of motto. The experience of working for the Secretary of Transportation – one of the administration’s most visible surrogates – paid off in concerts for White House campaign alumni at the Department of Transportation all the way to Capitol Hill and beyond.
“The campaigns reflect the character of the candidate,” said Lis Smith, the New York political agent who helped guide Buttigieg through the gauntlet of the 2020 presidential primaries. “Pete was someone who performed at a very high level. high every day of the week.
“That’s why campaign staff, who are in their early 20s or mid 20s, take on these kinds of big roles on Capitol Hill or the White House.”
Before ending on March 1, 2020, Buttigieg’s presidential campaign totaled just under 600 employees. Based in South Bend, Indiana – an unlikely location for a presidential campaign – Team Pete for America has grown into one of the city’s largest employers in the Midwest. It was the largest Indiana-based presidential campaign since the days of Wendell Willkie, the Elwood business titan who opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940.
COVID-19 restrictions kept much of the staff stranded in South Bend for months after the campaign, leading to closer relations. And then there was Buttigieg’s emphasis on national service – something that seems to have rubbed off on the staff who remained in politics and government after the campaign.
Team members stay in close contact. One group has family dinners in Washington almost every week. The communications team has a group chat thread where they showcase their former boss’s latest media success and post tweets to boost the signal. There’s even a Google group dubbed the “High Hopefuls Alumni Network,” which offers networking opportunities and job postings.
At least 17 former Buttigieg aides work in Biden’s White House, serving the press office, the Home Policy Council, and the National Security Council – a former Buttigieg staff member is even the body of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. At least six work for Buttigieg at the Ministry of Transport.
Beyond Washington, some have already found themselves working for opposing candidates in the Democratic primary. And two are getting married.
In a campaign that turned staff members into digital surrogates on Twitter, some found themselves gaining notoriety and their own fans online. And they are likely to be around national and state politics for a long time.
“You don’t take the 37-year-old mayor of Indiana’s fourth largest city to help him win the Iowa caucus and become one of the top presidential candidates unless you are immensely talented, “Hari Sevugan, former deputy campaign manager for Buttigieg, told Insider. “But more than that, you have to have the vision to see what’s possible and the rigor to build it.
“This is why there is going to be a Buttigieg Mafia not only to help run Democratic politics for a generation, but also to run the businesses and organizations that will shape the future of the country more broadly.”
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