U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has nominated his one-time rival Pete Buttigieg to serve as his Secretary of Transportation; Biden’s transition team announced Tuesday.
If confirmed by the Senate, the former South Bend, Ind.; mayor would become the first openly gay person to hold a cabinet position in U.S. history.
At 38, he would also be one of the youngest members of Biden’s administration; which has skewed heavily towards nominees with long resumes and decades of experience in Washington.
In a tweet, Buttigieg said he was “honoured” by the nomination.
“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity — to create jobs, meet the climate challenge; and enhance equity for all,” he wrote.
Biden said in a statement that Buttigieg was a “patriot and a problem-solver who speaks to the best of who we are as a nation.”
“I am nominating him for Secretary of Transportation because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges; and opportunities ahead of us,” Biden said.
“Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the (Department of Transportation); the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better.”
Buttigieg made an impact during the Democratic presidential primary earlier this year; eventually moving into the top tier of candidates challenging Biden for the nomination. His mix of centrist; and progressive policies led him to finish at or near the top in the first few statewide contests, including the Iowa caucus.
After his campaign struggled to appeal to Black voters, however, Buttigieg quickly withdrew from the race and endorsed Biden; helping to put significant energy behind the former vice-president’s White House bid.
It’s long been clear that Biden would find some role for Buttigieg in his administration.
The two became close during the primary, chatting before debates and other campaign events.
Biden has said that Buttigieg reminds him of his late son, Beau; who was Delaware’s attorney general before dying from brain cancer at 46 in 2015.
“To me, it’s the highest compliment I can give any man or woman,” Biden said in March as Buttigieg offered his endorsement. “Like Beau, he has a backbone like a ramrod.”
There were reports that Buttigieg was being considered for an ambassadorship; possibly to China or the United Nations, based on his military background and foreign policy chops.