Mayor Pete Is Biden's Pick for Transportation Secretary

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate a former rival in the Democratic presidential primary and the former two-term mayor of South Bend, the fourth largest city in Indiana, to head the Transportation Department.

3 minute read

December 16, 2020, 8:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

2020 Presidential Campaign

MaverickPhotos / Shutterstock

It pays to be a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary election who concedes early and endorses the eventual winner who goes on to become the president-elect.

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who won the Iowa caucuses on February 3 and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on March 2 after the South Carolina primary, will be nominated by Biden to join his cabinet to head the Transportation Department, according to CNN (source article). The former vice president was certified by the electoral college on Dec. 14 to become the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021.

If confirmed, Buttigieg would be the first LGBTQ Cabinet secretary, adding to the diversity that Biden promised, reports Dan Merica on Tuesday. He would also likely be the youngest cabinet member of the new Biden-Harris administration, turning 39 the day after the inauguration.

The choice -- which represents the first time the President-elect has called on one of his former Democratic presidential opponents to join his administration as a Cabinet secretary -- vaults a candidate Biden spoke glowingly of after the primary into a top job in his incoming administration and could earn Buttigieg what many Democrats believe is needed experience should he run for president again.

Buttigieg emerged as the leading candidate for the transportation secretary role in recent days. The former mayor was considered for a host of other posts, including US ambassador to the United Nations [filled by Linda Thomas-Greenfield] and commerce secretary.

Other Democrats were also considered for the post, including former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.

A once-in-a-lifetime priceless gift

"Buttigieg often spoke about infrastructure on the campaign trail from the perspective of a small mayor, arguing that local governments like the one he once ran needed people in Washington who understood their needs and issues," adds Merica. However, his background as mayor of a Midwestern city of just over 100,000 people might not appear, at first glance to qualify him to lead the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In an unrelated column on the nomination of the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department in the Biden administration, George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times makes the point that when offered a cabinet post, a wise politician takes it, even if it's not the ideal fit.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a co-chair of Biden’s transition team, was eager to run HHS, according to published reports. She was offered Interior secretary instead and turned it down, upsetting the president-elect’s top advisors. She wound up getting nothing so far.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was about to be offered the HHS job, according to news reports. But she has kids in school and wasn’t keen on moving to Washington...So, the governor publicly announced she didn’t want the job.

The Biden team quickly turned to Becerra, who had already been vetted and was on the short list for U.S. attorney general.

Becerra didn’t hesitate. He jumped at the offer, realizing that an opportunity to become a cabinet secretary is usually a once-in-a-lifetime priceless gift. You’re powerful and treated like royalty, especially as a top player in a new administration. You don’t get choosy about the job or fight over turf before you’re even nominated.

Readers will find six posts in Planetizen tagged Mayor Pete Buttigieg, including:

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 in CNN

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