Buttigieg emphasizes importance of Michigan’s early primary during labor roundtable ⋆

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized the importance of participating in Michigan’s presidential primary on Feb. 27 to union members in Lansing on Wednesday during a campaign event for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

“Michigan just became an early primary state. Every state in the country wants to be one of those early states,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg shared the story of a news crew in an early primary state in 1980 asking a voter if they had decided who to vote for and what they thought of Ronald Reagan, to which the voter replied, “It’s pretty early; I haven’t really paid that much attention yet, so I don’t really know. As far as Ronald Reagan, I’ve only met him three or four times, so it’s going to take a while for me to really get a feel.”

“That’s the political culture in early primary states,” Buttigieg said. “Michigan has just become an early primary state in a way that, as a new Michigander, I’m pretty excited about.”

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., moved his family to Traverse City in 2022.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a Detroit fundraiser as part of his 2020 presidential campaign, July 28, 2019 | Andrew Roth

Even if the field were to thin before Michigan’s primary rolls around or it doesn’t seem important to vote with Biden facing little challenge in other states so far, Buttigieg said it’s important for Michigan to make a strong impression during its first cycle as an early voting state.

“I think it’s important for residents in the state to lean into that, even if this isn’t like 2020 when you had 20 of us running around all running for president,” Buttigieg said. “Just showing that people here understand what it means to be given a level of outsized influence that can really shape the conversation, and showing our readiness to do that, that’s a big deal.”

Buttigieg was one of the many Democrats who sought the presidency in 2020.

Price Dobernick, business manager for UA Local 333, said that Democrats need to turn out in the primary if only to make a statement.

“I think it’s important to vote to not create false momentum on the other side,” Dobernick said. “Nobody shows up to vote because they don’t need to, it’s a slam dunk, and then the other side is building what I would call false momentum.”

Buttigieg said Biden is committed to continuing to campaign for the Democratic nomination “even if commentators say it’s a done deal,” in part to show that “we really recognize and take seriously Michigan’s role as an early primary state.”

Biden visited Michigan last week to celebrate his endorsement from the UAW, visiting a union hall in Warren. Outside the event, about 200 protestors gathered calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s military campaign in Gaza against Hamas.

President Joe Biden is greeted by Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Metro Detroit on Feb. 1 2024. (Anna Liz Nichols)

While some metro Detroit leaders have urged voters to vote uncommitted in the primary to express dissatisfaction with the White House’s handling of the conflict in Gaza, Buttigieg said that Biden “understands that he needs to earn every vote” and that “no one’s support is being taken for granted right now.”

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said that campaigning throughout the primaries can be helpful for candidates heading into the general election, because it forces them to build their political infrastructure in each state sooner than they otherwise might.

“You can use it to work out all the kinks in the organizing apparatus,” Gilchrist said. “Make no mistake about it, come November, we have to have all hands on deck. We can start doing it this month, we can have another go at it in August, because come November, everything needs to be firing on all cylinders.”

While recent polling suggests Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could fare significantly better in a hypothetical matchup with former President Donald Trump than Biden, beating the former president in Michigan while Biden loses, Buttigieg dismissed a question about whether he’s concerned about a lack of enthusiasm from voters who may have an appetite for younger candidates, saying, “We’re done litigating who might jump into the 2024 presidential election.” 

Whitmer, a national co-chair of Biden’s reelection campaign, has laughed off the poll because, she says, there’s no chance of her running this year.

Still, Buttigieg said Biden will work to win over young voters by focusing on the future when crafting his policies around issues like climate change and gun violence. 

“It’s not just about who’s your perfect vision on either side of the aisle, it’s about the two presidents, the current president and the defeated former president, running against each other, presenting two radically different visions for this country,” Buttigieg said.

“I think the biggest contrast we have in this race is between two presidents who, let’s face it, are from the same generation – it’s not mine, but they’re in the same generation as each other – and one of them is focused on our future, and the other one is focused on his past. I think if you get a return to office from somebody like Donald Trump, who is now obsessed with revenge over the past, that gives you a very different set of implications for what life is going to be like for younger generations like mine.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist participate in a labor roundtable hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with members of UA Local 333 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Lansing on Feb. 7, 2024. (Andrew Roth/)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist participate in a labor roundtable hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with members of UA Local 333 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Lansing on Feb. 7, 2024. (Andrew Roth/)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participates in a labor roundtable hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with members of UA Local 333 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Lansing on Feb. 7, 2024. (Andrew Roth/)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participates in a labor roundtable hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with members of UA Local 333 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Lansing on Feb. 7, 2024. (Andrew Roth/)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participates in a labor roundtable hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with members of UA Local 333 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Lansing on Feb. 7, 2024. (Andrew Roth/)

UA Local 333 business manager Price Dobernick, left, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, center, and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, right, participate in a labor roundtable hosted by President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign with members of UA Local 333 Plumbers and Pipefitters in Lansing on Feb. 7, 2024. (Andrew Roth/)

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authored by Andrew Roth
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F02%2F08%2Fbuttigieg-emphasizes-importance-of-michigans-early-primary-importance-during-labor-roundtable%2F

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