'Mayor Pete' Watcher Says Transportation Is Right Post for Him Former Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks after he was nominated to be Transportation Secretary by Joe Biden during a news conference at Biden's transition headquarters on December 16, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images)
Several fans of Pete Buttigieg were disappointed the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democrat presidential hopeful was named secretary of transportation Tuesday night instead of the more glamorous positions in the Biden administration.
But at least one fellow Hoosier and seasoned observer of “Mayor Pete” believes that heading the Department of Transportation (DOT) could easily put him on a trajectory to much bigger things — and the next presidential bid his supporters very clearly want.
“This should be very positive for him,” Ed Feigenbaum, editor of the much-read Indiana Legislative Insight newsletter, told Newsmax. “From a policy perspective, DOT is a good fit. Yes, he is a deep thinker, but he’s also a nuts-and-bolts guy, as you saw from his tenure at McKinsey and Company and as mayor.”
Buttigieg, Feigenbaum recalled, “reveled in turning some one-way streets around and changing traffic flow and downtown infrastructure. He was more successful in landing new flights for the South Bend Regional Airport than his predecessors.”
“From a political perspective,” he added, “Mayor Pete is perfectly positioned. Biden wants bipartisan cooperation on infrastructure, and [former Chicago Mayor and Obama White House Chief of Staff ] Rahm Emmanuel would have not played well — in both senses of the word — with Republicans.
“Buttigieg can come in fresh and he knows all the right words to use — and they don’t have four letters like Rahm’s. He will have a better excuse than any other Cabinet member to travel the country building new alliances, and if he can bring some new projects to historically under-served areas — in other words, minority areas — that will help him if he wants to run in four or eight or 12 years.”
Feigenbaum dismisses the idea of Buttigieg running for governor of Indiana in 2024 — “the Republican bench is too strong and too deep” — and instead sees him as a potential running mate with Kamala Harris in 2024 or making another run for president in ’28.
As for the “sexier” positions of ambassador to the United Nations or to China for which Buttigieg was mentioned before Tuesday, Feigenbaum said “UN ambassador would have been nice, but we all know there were other considerations and favors to return, and that wasn't a practical idea.
“China would be a dead end. While it might make sense resume-wise, the Foreign Service folks say there’s nothing he can accomplish there, and the downside wouldn’t be pretty.”
Feigenbaum cited “the trajectory of Andy Card, who lost his race for Massachusetts governor, went to work for Reagan, became close with Bush-41 and was his DOT secretary before serving as Bush 43 chief of staff.”
“Mayor Pete would also be a superb presidential chief of staff ,” he told us. “But we already have one from Indiana in the form of Ron Klain!”
If confirmed, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Cabinet member.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.