LaPORTE  —  I have to give credit where credit is due – my daughter Margaux – who bought me Mayor Pete’s book and asked me why I hadn’t yet gone “all in” for his campaign. She and her Millennial buddies had taken a shine to Pete as a potential candidate for president some time ago after reading “Shortest Way Home.”

I was one of Pete’s earliest donors to his state treasurer campaign in 2010 and have long respected his basic decency and integrity. I’ve admired his solid work as mayor and have always been a fan, even though I might occasionally disagree with his decision-making, such as the fact we’re on opposite sides of the 2019 South Bend mayor’s race – Pete siding with his longtime friend and city department head James Mueller, while I and many others in politics and labor in our area are supporting former Democratic county chairman Jason Critchlow, widely viewed as one of the top two or three county chairs in the state for his success at party-building and inclusion.

Candidly, you can color me as someone, like many other veterans of Indiana politics, who was somewhat skeptical when Pete first announced his exploratory committee for president, figuring it might be a tad too ambitious, surprised as we were that he wasn’t angling for a cabinet position with one of the early frontrunners.

Yet in the months since forming that exploratory committee, with the publication of this book and his incredible success at reaching such a diverse audience hungry for authenticity and decency, I’ve been incredibly proud of the reach and appeal that my friend has achieved and have come to realize this: Pete can go the distance.

Anyone reading “Shortest Way Home” cannot come away with anything but a great home-state pride in our area having produced such an eloquent, compassionate and thoughtful representative of a new generation eager for change and reform.

I’ve gotten calls from friends and family on both coasts and in between. I must tell you there is a great satisfaction as a native Hoosier in having our state viewed through a different lens than the state that produced a Mike Pence or a RFRA when folks consider a Mayor Pete; it’s a lens that has folks looking at Indiana a bit differently when seeing someone like Pete Buttigieg on the national stage. 

The picture he paints of himself in his book is so endearing, both for its humor and humility as much as for the insights it gives on the man himself. As New York Times columnist David Brooks put so well in a recent column, so many Democrats are “sick of the moral melodrama. They just want a person who is more about governing than virtue-signaling, more about friendliness and basic decency than media circus and rhetorical war. Buttigieg’s secret is that he transcends many of the tensions that run though our society in a way that makes all sides feel comfortable.”

Pete has an extraordinary intellect and a capacity to absorb complex policy issues, but then to convey them in understandable terms that regular folks can relate to. He is comfortable with his faith and is also defiantly proud of his modest roots in his beloved South Bend. 

Pete Buttigieg and his long-time campaign manager, Mike Schmuhl, are as grounded and as down to earth as one can imagine. They both satisfy, in a very authentic and real fashion, the hunger for a campaign that is built on policy ideas, effective governing and decency.

It was widely respected Rep. Adam Schiff of California who put it best in an interview with the Los Angeles Blade this week when he stated of Mayor Pete that it “just goes to show you that the country is filled with great people and talent who have a positive vision – that this sort of dark cloud that has descended on Washington isn’t representative of what’s best in the country.” Said Schiff, “Mayor Pete is one of those great illustrations of what’s right in America.”

Yes, Margaux – I’m all in. There is a boldness, an assertiveness, a fresh vision in Pete’s Buttigieg’s candidacy that addresses the anxieties and partisan anger of our era. Mayor Pete is exactly what our country needs and deserves right about now. 

Shaw Friedman is former legal counsel for the Indiana Democratic Party and a longtime HPI contributor.