Pete Buttigieg, one of Biden’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, will be nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to be his transportation secretary, The Associated Press and Reuters media outlets have reported, citing people familiar with Biden’s plans.
Buttigieg, 38, is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and will be the first LGBTQ Cabinet secretary approved by the U.S. Senate if confirmed.
During his 2020 presidential campaign, Buttigieg, who had never held federal office, showed significant electoral strength, rising from an obscure midwestern mayor to the co-winner of the February Iowa caucuses with Senator Bernie Sanders, beating Biden and a wide field of far better-known Democrats.
Buttigieg’s popularity, however, diminished in subsequent primaries and he dropped out of the race in March, throwing his support behind Biden at a time when moderate, establishment Democrats were coalescing behind the former vice president.
Rumors have circulated for a few weeks about Buttigieg’s landing somewhere in Biden’s administration, including news of a possible appointment as US ambassador to China.
Despite being seen as a rising star within the party, a number of progressive groups and Black leaders who have criticized his record on civil rights have opposed Buttigieg’s possible appointment to a Cabinet post.
Buttigieg faced fierce criticism from African American activists during the Democratic primary, who claimed he did not do enough as mayor to combat structural racism in South Bend and help Black residents share in the economic revitalization of the city.
Jordan Giger, a Black Lives Matter activist in South Bend, called Buttigieg “completely unqualified” for a Cabinet-level role on a call with reporters on Tuesday.
Biden seemed largely unconcerned by liberal concerns about his administration’s appointments, preferring to reward those who showed allegiance to his campaign as it struggled to gain support.
Biden associated Buttigieg with his late son, Beau, at the March event where Buttigieg endorsed Biden.