The Chatter

Pete Buttigieg Touts Criminal Justice Reform In Baltimore Visit

The presidential candidate first visit to Baltimore was for private donor fundraising event.

At a fundraising event for presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in Baltimore Thursday night, the chatter couldn’t help but revert to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Neal Naff, the chief of the Department of Neurosurgery at LifeBridge Health, and Nathan Hubler, hosted the event at their home. In his opening remarks, Naff brought up the team’s game against the New York Jets, and at the end of the proceedings, Buttigieg was presented with a Lamar Jackson jersey, per a pool report.

As he gains momentum in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, Buttigieg made his first visit as a presidential candidate to Baltimore, where he gave a shortened version of his stump speech and answered questions from supporters who met a threshold donation ($500 – $2,800) to attend.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, as well as the one of the first openly gay people run for President—Fred Karger ran as a Republican in 2012 and was the first—has received endorsements from prominent Maryland delegates including Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City 43rd) and Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City’s 46th), who are both members of and strong advocates for the LGBTQ community locally. Clippinger was in attendance at the event, as was state delegate and Marine veteran and Patrick Young (D-Baltimore County 44th).

Former state Democratic chairwoman Susan W. Turnbull has also been a Buttigieg supporter for several months, as has Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery 39th).

“Several current and former elected officials have endorsed Pete and there is a vibrant community of volunteers across the state who have been holding debate watch parties, other ‘PeteUps’ and representing Pete at community events,” Turnbull told the Sun.

At the event, Buttigieg was asked about how his policies will help Baltimore. According to the pool report, he said it will be helpful to have, “a mayor’s eye view in the White House,” referring to Washington, D.C.’s proximity to Baltimore.

In the same answer, Buttigieg mentioned his Frederick Douglass Plan to dismantle systemic racism. The plan is described by his campaign website as “a comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems combined with an equally intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans.” One of the main tenets of the plan, Buttigieg explained, is criminal justice reform.

“Criminal justice reform is imperative,” he said Thursday. “But we can’t get traction on that if we’re not also talking about issues of economic empowerment. And it’s hard to talk about that without talking about education, which is why I need to be supporting HBCUs. And dealing with education, in particular segregation in education, is partly a function of housing.”

Morgan State University and Coppin State University, both Baltimore HBCUs, would figure to benefit from such support.

Reducing crime is also a major part of City Council President Brandon Scott’s mayoral campaign platform—he was among the approximatelty 140 people in attendance, according to Baltimore Brew—as it is for many other city leaders. Scott asserts that “every city agency has a role to play in addressing the disease of gun violence in our city.”

Buttigieg is in favor of major gun legislation, including establishing a nationwide gun licensing system and resuming federal funding for gun violence research. Buttigieg asserted at the event that there is an American majority on the issue when it comes to gun law reform.

When the Buttigieg fundraising event was first announced, the Baltimore fundraiser was initially closed to reporters. But recent calls from Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren, as well as questions from the press about opening up campaign fundraising events ushered in a change of course this week and pool reporters now are being allowed at most events. Buttigieg also agreed to release a list of his “bundlers,” groups of people who work to gather money for campaigns through means like phone calls and recruiting.

Buttigieg has emerged as a prominent candidate over the past several months. Among his clearest positions are abolishing the electoral college and restructuring the Supreme Court to include 15 members—five more chosen by the other 10. He opposes the death penalty and private prisons, and on the economic side, he has endorsed efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15.

Buttigieg ended his remarks asking everyone to “spread his message and hope.”