Santa Fe New Mexican

Mayor Pete: What matters most is winning in 2020


This early in the 2020 presidenti­al election cycle, it is exciting for New Mexico to see a live presidenti­al candidate. Generally, our state is good for fundraisin­g by surrogate — witness Jill Biden’s efforts last month to bring in campaign cash. The wife of former Vice President Joe Biden was in Corrales and Santa Fe to raise money for her husband’s run for the Democratic presidenti­al nomination. As for the candidates themselves, they are busy shaking hands in early primary or caucus states, raising their profiles on TV or raking in the cash from big donors on the coasts.

Yet this Sunday — today — Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in Santa Fe to meet people and raise money.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor has become an unlikely star in the crowded presidenti­al field of Democratic candidates. At 37, he represents a much-needed infusion of young blood in the increasing­ly geriatric presidenti­al contests. He is a veteran of Afghanista­n — unlike the commander in chief, who claimed bone spurs to avoid service — and speaks about his Christian faith in a manner that delivers not holier-thanthou sanctity, but sincerity.

Still, star power does not always translate into votes.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll average currently has Buttigieg at fifth with 6 percent of Democratic primary voters. That’s behind Biden, the leader with 32 percent; Sen. Bernie Sanders, 18 percent; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 15 percent; and Sen. Kamala Harris, 10 percent. Yet Buttigieg remains in the top tier of candidates and has qualified for the next round of presidenti­al debates at the end of August in Houston.

No wonder some in Santa Fe are excited to see Mayor Pete in person, even if he’s here to raise money.

The mayor should take time to find out what makes people in Santa Fe — flyover

country, just like places in the Midwest — tick. A campaign’s moral wealth should be worth more than its war chest, and that’s found in places like Santa Fe, where diversity is a strength and political success is often judged by your contacts, not just your cash.

One Santa Fe resident we wish could meet Mayor Pete is immigratio­n lawyer Allegra Love. She is likely busy along the border, working with other activists, as she put it, “to figure out how to take down an entire detention system.”

Love is prescient enough to understand the current group of refugees coming from Central America is but the beginning of a tidal wave — climate change is causing crop failure and making it nearly impossible for people to earn a living. Add that to the violence of the region, and there’s no wonder the people are seeking to escape, risking the dangerous voyage and the cruel welcome at our southern border.

Migration is a fact of life, and unless we deal with the root causes — including more, not less, aid to Central America — the refugees will keep on coming. At a gathering last month to talk to Santa Fe residents about the humanitari­an crisis, Love called what is happening now a “dress rehearsal” for the future. And it’s one that the United States is failing.

Another person Mayor Pete might enjoy meeting is recent high school graduate Edgar Sarceño, who won a full-ride scholarshi­p to college despite being homeless. The Santa Fe High graduate is going to Bates College in Maine, taking with him the survival skills he learned from working several jobs and completing his courses, all while living out of his car. He could tell any presidenti­al candidate what life in the United States is like for people without a safety net.

Buttigieg likely will meet Meow Wolf co-founder and CEO Vince Kadlubek, an expert on the creative economy as a way to build jobs and opportunit­y. Kadlubek spoke about the candidate’s visit on Facebook last week, not revealing it would occur in Santa Fe. Here’s Kadlubek’s always interestin­g take from Facebook: “I’m a max donor for Mayor Pete. I think he is amazing, I’ve been inspired by him through this whole process. I’ll meet him on Sunday and I’ll tell him that I hope he drops early and supports Elizabeth Warren.”

Our message for Buttigieg? Remain positive. Share your vision with a country in need of a leader who lifts us up rather than tears us apart. Remind Americans of our founding values. Don’t let up on a president who is disgracing both his office and the people he is sworn to serve. Talk more about the importance of the Supreme Court, not just enlarging it, but selecting justices with credibilit­y and intelligen­ce.

Most of all, be enthused about the Democratic nominee, even if it’s not you.

The biggest challenge facing the United States can be summed up in two words: Donald Trump.

Democrats must win in 2020, both at the presidenti­al level and the House and Senate.

Only then can our battered and bruised nation get to work on coming together again, fighting climate change, reducing income inequality, rebuilding infrastruc­ture and growing opportunit­y for all rather than just the 1 percent. We can pull back our troops from endless wars and repair relations with allies. We can stop foolish trade wars that hit working people in the pocketbook. We can take comfort in a leader who doesn’t use his bully pulpit to be a bully. We can win again, to borrow a phrase. Those things are possible. But Mayor Pete, while we have you in Santa Fe, take back this message to the other Democratic candidates: You have one job.

Beat Donald Trump.

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Pete Buttigieg

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