A year ago he was a mostly-unknown Indiana school teacher. Now Chasten Buttigieg has become a “secret weapon” to help his husband get into the White House, and to everyone’s shock, he’s incredibly good at it.
Nobody can become president of the United States without spending millions of dollars, and over the last few months, Chasten has emerged as an effective headliner at Mayor Pete’s fundraising events. While Pete campaigns, makes speeches, and shows up on cable news, Chasten bounces from city to city — and occasionally other countries — raising the needed money at a startling rate.
On average, Pete Buttigieg brings in around $100,000 every time he appears at a fundraising event for his campaign. According to Politico, Chasten’s fundraising power is about a third of that, which is still considerable for a candidate’s partner. Tickets to a fundraiser in Chicago this Tuesday cost $25, but a New York fundraiser later on will run as much as $1,000.
Chasten is most popular with LGBTQ crowds, such as those at an LGBTQ mixer by the Democratic National Committee last June. Pete may be the one running for office, but it’s his husband who’s helping him pay for it.
That also takes some of the pressure off Pete to raise money. So far, the South Bend, Ind. mayor leads all challengers in the Democratic primary with $25 million raised in the last quarter. That means the candidate can spend more time speaking to voters and less time glad-handling the super-rich for a taste of their hoarded wealth.
To help with the campaign, Chasten took a leave of absence from teaching earlier this year. In addition to fundraising, he runs a whimsical Twitter account, with nearly a half-million followers.
Other candidates’ partners have been making appearances on their behalf. Jill Biden, herself an educator, is a frequent figure at campaign stops and on talk shows. Elizabeth Warren’s husband, Bruce Mann, often loiters to the side while Warren poses for photos. Doug Emhoff, husband of Kamala Harris, has been known to do some fundraising here and there.
Chasten has been noted for his charismatic appeal when it comes to gathering cash. “He’s something of a secret weapon for this campaign,” Pete told Politico. “Chasten ... really embodies a lot of the values of this campaign.”
Money considerations aside, having a two-man operation helps set the Buttigieg campaign apart from the crowded field of contenders. With so many names in the race, voters are looking for anything that distinguishes one politician from another, and nobody else has a charming gay husband who exchanges tweets with Lin-Manuel Miranda — that we know of.