Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg remains highly popular among Democrats – and a possible presidential candidate someday. He could be a strong contender for the top job in 2028.
A poll taken in January showed him more popular than his boss, Joe Biden, among 2024 Democratic New Hampshire primary voters.
Twenty-three percent told a Granite State poll taken by the University of New Hampshire that they preferred Buttigieg. He had a 69% approval rating among Democrats compared with 49% for Biden.
Buttigieg placed in the top tier of Democratic primary candidates before bowing out in March 2020, winning the Iowa caucuses. The first openly gay presidential candidate to place in the top tier in a presidential caucus rode his service in Afghanistan and his Midwestern bona fides to become a serious contender. He also positioned himself as a Washington outsider.
Pete Buttigieg Faces Competency Questions
As Transportation Secretary, Buttigieg has run into the buzzsaw of Washington bureaucracy and politicking. Republicans have sought to portray him as a diversity token, suggesting the only reason he has his job is his sexual preference.
“I think Buttigieg is a perfect example of the danger of setting up some kind of program that says we don’t care how competent you are. We care whether or not you fit some box we’ve created. He happened to be, I think, perfect for the Biden administration because he was the kind of person who represented, for the gay community, a unique appointment. The problem was he’s incompetent. It’s not a question about his sexual orientation. It’s a question about competence,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said about Buttigieg in the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.
Back in the summer, a report by the Transportation Department Inspector General’s office found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency Buttigieg holds responsibility for, did not properly staff its critical air traffic control facilities.
“… FAA continues to face staffing challenges and lacks a plan to address them, which in turn poses a risk to the continuity of air traffic operations,” the report said.
In the past year the Transportation Department has struggled with serious problems with the post-pandemic airline traffic. In December Southwest Airlines experienced its meltdown that led to the cancellation of 16,700 flights. A month later, the FAA’s Notice to Air Mission (NOTAM) system melted down, halting all air traffic nationwide for the first time since 9/11.
Pete Buttigieg Can’t Pass the Buck
During the 2020 campaign Buttigieg was a little-known Midwestern mayor who became popular because he was an outsider and had no real record to defend.
If Buttigieg runs in 2028, he will have a leadership record to defend. Democrats, including likely rivals such as current California Gov. Gavin Newsom, will be able to challenge his track record as a leader in times of crisis.
The record shows that Buttigieg is not one to shoulder blame. He blames the weather instead of taking charge of problems in the federal bureaucracy.
“The goal is to always have a smooth traveling experience, and here at DoT we are doing steps we can take that we can take. In New York, that means allowing airlines to use larger planes with more seats at lower frequency, which means they can move more passengers with less congestion, and it’s showing signs of working,” Buttigieg said.
He continued: “We know that passengers continue to face issues, and I want passengers to know that when they do we have their back.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, who has become one of the more reliably liberal voices in the Republican Party in recent years, nailed Buttigieg following the East Palestine derailment in an interview with HuffPost.
“He’s not ready for the responsibility he has. He was a fine mayor, from what I understand, but the position he’s got really would be better served by a person who’s managed a large enterprise, a state, or something of the scale he’s now dealing with,” Romney said.
Pete Buttigieg has time on his side. A lot can happen between now and 2028.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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