In 2016, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote a profile on a young gay Midwestern man.
Bruni praised his work as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and asked if he could eventually be elected as ‘the first gay president.’
Buttigieg, the openly gay, multilingual mayor, is the upstart the Democrats didn’t see coming.
The 37-year-old has arguably vaulted himself into a large – and growing – field of blue tie-wearing politicians all vying to take on President Donald Trump, 72. But just who is Buttigieg and what does he stand for?
Upbringing and early career
Born in South Bend, Buttigieg was valedictorian at his high school, Saint Joseph, and went onto attend Harvard College. Majoring in history and literature, he then studied for a master’s at Oxford University in the UK.
Buttigieg bounced around the states, interning for various politicians and members of congress, before the Navy Reserve commissioned him as a naval intelligence officer in 2009.
In 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan and took unpaid leave from the Mayor’s office in order to go.
Just over 74% of South Bend citizens elected him as their mayor in 2011; the youngest mayor of a US city with at least 100,000 residents. He was even named Mayor of the Year 2013 by GovFresh.com.
And that was before he came out. He told his constituents that he was gay in an op-ed that he wrote for the local newspaper in 2015, during his re-election campaign.
Then he proceeded later that year to win 80% of the vote.
What does he stand for?
A fan of universal healthcare, universal background checks for firearm purchases, and pro-environment policies that tackle climate change, Buttigieg also wants to abolish capital punishment.
Furthermore, he supports the federal banning of LGBTI discrimination and advocates for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for immigrants.
The latter would allow undocumented migrants brought to the US as children to receive a renewable two-year grace period and become eligible for a work permit.
In true millennial fashion, Buttigieg met his husband on the dating app Hinge.
His partner, Chasten Glezman, a middle-school teacher, moved in with him in 2016. They married two years later.
They live in the same South Bend neighborhood where the mayor grew up along with their two rescue dogs, Truman and Buddy.
Since coming out, Buttigieg has often raised the issue of LGBTI rights.
One day in 2016, Buttigieg swung by Glezman’s classroom with a coffee. That night, a fuming school faculty sent him an email, arguing his actions were inappropriate in front of children.
He wrote back ‘explaining how what I was doing was the same kind of thing a straight couple would do,’ he told the Times.
‘I didn’t go in there to discuss LGBT issues. I went in there to bring a cup of coffee to somebody that I love.’
Is there anything he can’t do?
In keeping with his smart, academically savvy profile, he can speak Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French.
He runs half-marathons, can play the piano professionally, and does TEDx talks on urban innovation.
Moreover, he won a JFK New Frontier Award, given annually to a handful of Americans under 40 whose commitment to public service is changing the country.
With under a year to go until 2020, as Bruni said in 2016: ‘Keep an eye on him.’