Pete Buttigieg can now seek the highest office in the land without worrying about the responsibilities of the highest office in South Bend, Indiana. The 38-year-old Democrat's second term as mayor officially ended at noon on New Year's Day when successor James Mueller was sworn in, the South Bend Tribune reports. Buttigieg was present at the ceremony, where Mueller, his former chief of staff and chosen successor, thanked him on behalf of the city "for leading us through our comeback decade." Buttigieg said in December 2018 that he would not seek a third term. He launched his presidential campaign a month later and has led recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, though he remains in single digits in nationwide polling, Politico reports.
While Buttigieg is no longer "Mayor Pete," his time in office is likely to remain an issue on the campaign trail, the New York Times reports. Rivals have argued that being mayor of Indiana's fourth-largest city isn't enough to prepare for somebody for the presidency; amid problems connecting with black voters nationwide, a Black Lives Matter group in South Bend is holding a news conference Saturday on Buttigieg's "tolerance for racism by police." His campaign, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that it had raised $24.7 million in the last quarter of 2019, the Wall Street Journal reports. That puts him among the top Democratic fundraisers, though rivals including Elizabeth Warren have attacked him for targeting high-dollar donors and holding a fundraiser in a California "wine cave." (Read more Pete Buttigieg 2020 stories.)