Importantville: Buttigieg’s Big Bucks

Illustration by Kris Davidson

Welcome to Importantville. The Indiana House and Senate are in session at 1:30 p.m.

BUTTIGIEG’S BIG BUCKS: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg racked up a stunning $7 million in the first quarter of his presidential exploratory committee his campaign announced Monday, defying expectations for a candidacy that began with an email list of just 20,000.

This is just a preliminary analysis, but our team’s initial report shows we raised over $7 million in Q1 of this year. We (you) are out-performing expectations at every turn,” Buttigieg said in an announcement. “I’ll have a more complete analysis later, but until then: a big thank you to all our supporters.”

Beyond 2020, the news cements Buttigieg as a significant player in statewide elections here in Indiana, setting him up to be a powerful fundraiser should he not prevail in his national endeavors.

BUTTIGIEG BUZZ ON MORNING JOE—Joe Scarborough: “We’ve heard it. Everybody has heard it. You know it’s kind of like what everyone said about Barack Obama in 2007. Well you know what, this is good for America, he’ll never win, he’s really cool, he’s really cool. And that’s what we’ve been hearing about Mayor Pete. The guy raised $7 million in the first quarter. He’s lighting it on fire. Does this mean we need to start considering him a top tier candidate?”

CONTEXT: Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $10 million in a week earlier this year, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced a $6 million day. But it’s possible Buttigieg outperforms Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

AND THERE’S THIS: Buttigieg’s Hitting Home Political Action Committee finished last year with around $70,000 last year.

WHAT’S NEXT: Buttigieg’s campaign is expected to move into a new office in South Bend this week. And his earned media strategy will take him to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, an episode that will air April 11. He’ll be in New Hampshire Friday and Saturday.

He also needs, you know, a campaign infrastructure, writes Politico’s Elena Schneider:

The South Bend, Ind., mayor is earning glowing press coverage and enjoying a polling spike after a fiery rebuke of Vice President Mike Pence during a CNN town hall. But, so far, he’s got almost no on-the-ground operation in the early states, as he has to figure out how to convert his Twitter-trending bid into a sustained national campaign.

WHERE’S VEEP? He has lunch with the president at 12:30 p.m.


Boosted by Pence, Graham plays up his loyalty to Trump as he seeks a fourth term,” by the Washington Post’s Robert Costa:

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) kicked off his reelection campaign here over the weekend by having Vice President Pence — perhaps President Trump’s most loyal ally — underscore his own loyalty to the president.

“I have watched him stand in solidarity with President Trump and our administration,” Pence said Saturday at a beachfront hotel.

Earlier, Graham assured the more than 700 attendees — many of them wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — that his “number one” priority is Trump’s reelection.

“I’m going to be a good ally to this president and be his partner,” he said.


“VPOTUS…riffed on Democrats and socialism. He said “Medicare for all just means quality health care for none.” He said the Green New Deal will cost Americans “green,” as in money.

“America will never be a socialist country,” he said, a line that has become a staple for him.

“VPOTUS, standing before 4 U.S. flags and 4 S.C. state flags, finished remarks at 12:27 p.m.”


Though Buttigieg and other national contenders are unveiling their first-quarter fundraising results this week, we won’t find out about state and local numbers for a bit. April 12 is the cutoff; reports are due on April 22.


Scott Bixby, The Daily Beast: “Mayor Pete’s Anti-Trump Campaign Tactic: Target ‘Hypocrite’

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s message for fellow Democratic hopefuls is a straightforward one: It’s not enough to just attack the president—no matter how loathsome you might find his words, actions and policies.

The vice president, on the other hand? It’s a little more complicated.

“It just felt like every few months, there would be some fresh embarrassment,” Buttigieg told The Daily Beast, in a conversation about his time as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, under then-Governor Mike Pence. “We had to deal with this kind of rotation of blunders that really made our entire state look silly.”

Other Democratic candidates have occasionally criticized Pence on the campaign trail—Sen. Kamala Harris called Pence’s past remarks about his refusal to dine alone with women without his wife present “outrageous”—although former Vice President Joe Biden was forced to backtrack after calling Pence “a decent guy” during a speech in Iowa.

Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast: “Conservatives Better Stop Cheering and Start Fearing Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg is on a roll, and even conservatives are cheering.

To get a sense of why, I talked to Michael B. Murphy, a former Republican state representative who grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

“I think his rhetoric has been brilliant,” Murphy tells me. “Even people who disagree with him on the issues walk away thinking, ‘Well, I disagree with him, but he’s not a bad guy.’”

Buttigieg hails from what Murphy describes as a very conservative working-class town—with a very liberal Catholic university (Notre Dame). Surviving in this mixed environment required learning how to navigate politics in a way that a congressman representing a deep blue district might not do.

Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs: All About Pete

If we are lucky, Buttigieg Fever will dissipate quickly when people realize this guy is the same rancid wine in a new wifi-enabled bottle. “Hah, remember when Pete Buttigieg became a thing for a hot second?” It will be remembered as neoliberalism’s last gasp, a pitiful attempt at co-optation that was met with a unanimous reply of “Nice try.” Let’s hope to God that’s how this goes.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: This piece, though a bit screed-y at times, could be a harbinger for the Buttigieg Blowback newscycle that could eventually come. Its basic thesis is that Buttigieg is too clean and too obsequious to be president. “I don’t trust former McKinsey consultants,” the author writes. “I don’t trust military intelligence officers. And I don’t trust the type of people likely to appear on “40 under 40” lists, the valedictorian-to-Harvard-to-Rhodes-Scholarship types who populate the American elite.” In addition, the author argues that South Bend’s poverty is a glaring mark on the mayor’s record, and suggests that he may struggling with black voters.

Nicole Poletika, Belt Magazine: The Undemocratic Making of Indianapolis

In any conversation about Unigov, a good place to start is with the name—that technical, distinctly mid-century-sounding title for the 1970 consolidation of city and county governments in Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. As you might have guessed, it’s a combination of “unified” and “government.” Administrative mergers, if you ask my opinion, are far from sexy. But in the case of Unigov, what initially seems like a droll story about agency streamlining is in fact another chapter in America’s history of expansion—social equity be damned.

The story of Unigov begins in the middle 1940s, at the conclusion of World War II. Returning Hoosier servicemen and women flocked from center-city Indianapolis to rapidly-growing suburban housing developments. These new suburbanites, who were largely white and middle class, took their tax dollars with them, establishing, over the ensuing decades, a powerful base outside of the city and its urban core. Those who came into town did so primarily for governmental and business purposes. The city boasted one hotel, the canal teamed with tires, and fumes from the meatpacking plant permeated the city. Not much existed in the way of business or recreation. Mayor William Herbert Hudnut III, who served from 1976 to 1992, later recalled that, in pre-1970 Indianapolis, “It was said you could shoot a cannon down the street after five o’clock and not hit anybody.”

Days until Indiana General Assembly Sine Die: 27

Days until the Indy 500: 55

Days until the 2019 election: 218

Days until the 2020 election: 582