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‘Pete for America’ office opens in Marshalltown

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Pete (Buttigieg) for America national campaign chair Mike Schmuhl of South Bend, Ind., is congratulated by Marshall County Democratic Chair Jeannine Grady of Marshalltown after making remarks Saturday at Pete for Iowa local campaign headquarters, 30 W. Main St. Earlier in the day, Grady also welcomed U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, (D-Colo) to Marshalltown. Bennet is also vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

He is a young, gay presidential candidate and has opened the first 2020 Caucus campaign office in Marshalltown.

South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, is vying for the Democratic Party nomination. 

His office, which opened Saturday, is located at 30 W. Main St., a space used by Marshall County Democrats in 2018, 2016 and also by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in his Iowa caucus campaign against Sec. Hilary Clinton. 

He was told by experienced political operatives it would be difficult to raise the money needed to mount a national campaign.

Although Buttigieg was not present at the Marshalltown his national campaign chair, Mike Schmuhl, was.

Schmuhl welcomed a crowd of nearly 30 – a mix of volunteers and local Democrats interested in the campaign and the curious.

It was all part of the “Pete for America campaign which is opening 20 Iowa field offices 20 locations. Marshalltown was one of five locations that opened this weekend.

“When all is said and done in Iowa, we are going to have 97 full-time paid staff,” he said. “We are ramping it up to the  next level.”

Schmuhl and campaign volunteer Fernando Mello, did not have to work hard to fire up a primarily younger crowd on a campaign theme of hope.

“It was hope, that motivated me to volunteer for a campaign when I was 14 years old, it was hope that brought me to Marshalltown after leaving my native southern Brazil … 5,500 miles away to lead a better life than the one I had there,” Mello said. “I know there is a lot going on in the U.S. and the world, but there is no reason not be hopeful.”

Despite his Brazilian heritage, Mello said he was warmly welcomed in the U.S.

“We are going to have telephone banks here and more. We really need your help,” he said. “There are 141 days to caucus, we need your help to win it.”

Schmuhl is an experienced political operative who met Buttigieg in high school.

He managed Buttigieg’s campaign for mayor in 2011 when they were told in advance by South Bend political experts it would be tough to win, but they did.

Schmuhl then served as the mayor’s first chief of staff. He said it was easy to go to work for Buttigieg.

“He is the most courageous person I know,” Schmuhl said. “When Pete signed up for the military and served overseas, that was an act of courage. And the big one … when you run for president and you are 37 years old. He is the most courageous person I know, and I think our country needs a lot of courage now. I am filled with emotion when I walk into an office like this because in January this year we started out nationally with five volunteers and an idea.”