Pete Buttigieg, the out gay former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who waged a well-funded bid for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year, will be President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of Transportation, transition officials have confirmed. Reuters first broke the story on December 15.
Buttigieg, who finished neck and neck with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the first two primary contests — in Iowa and New Hampshire — dropped out shortly after Biden scored a big win in the South Carolina primary, endorsing the former vice president ahead of the Super Tuesday contests on March 3. Biden’s commanding victories that day essentially decided the nomination, with Sanders suspending his campaign a month later.
Buttigieg, a 38-year-old Harvard graduate who was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, attracted enormous attention during his campaign and boasted of being one of only two veterans on the primary debate stage (the other being Hawaii Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard), having served in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve. Though he surprised many with his strong showing as the first serious out LGBTQ presidential candidate, Buttigieg also faced criticism from some queer progressives for his centrist political posture, which included having retreated from a 2018 endorsement of Medicare For All to his position in the primary in favor of Medicare For All Who Want It.
The Victory Fund, a Washington-based group that works to elect out LGBTQ candidates, released a statement praising Buttigieg’s impending nomination, the first ever Cabinet appointment for an out LGBTQ American.
“Pete’s nomination is a new milestone in a decades-long effort to ensure LGBTQ people are represented throughout our government — and its impact will reverberate well-beyond the department he will lead,” said Annise Parker, the group’s president who previously served three terms as Houston’s mayor. “It distances our nation from a troubled legacy of barring out LGBTQ people from government positions and moves us closer to the president-elect’s vision of a government that reflects America. As an out LGBTQ person, Pete will bring a unique perspective that will inform and influence policy throughout the federal government. Most important, however, is that Pete will bring his intellect and energy to the Department of Transportation and our nation will be better off because of it.”
The group has been advocating for an out LGBTQ Cabinet appointment as well as one on the Supreme Court and in key ambassador posts around the world.
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