Buttigieg flips the switch—Holcomb unveils '20 team—Hogsett $1m in ad spending

By the end of the week, the South Bend mayor could have the largest staff in Iowa and N.H.

By Adam Wren and design by Kris Davidson

Pete Buttigieg, sitting on a field-leading fundraising haul from last quarter, is finally ready to spend some dough. On Monday, ahead of a full-day swing in Iowa, Buttigieg’s campaign announced a spate of early state hires aimed at jolting his plateaued presidential campaign to life: He’ll be opening 20 field offices in Iowa ahead of the Polk County Steak Fry, and he’s adding 36 organizing staffers, bringing his staff to 100 by the end of the week.

It’s an aggressive play for the South Bend mayor, especially compared to Buttigieg’s fellow Democratic contenders’ staffs: according to Iowa Starting Line, former Vice President Joe Biden had about 75 staffers mid-August; Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) employed roughly 65; Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-V.T.) had about 50; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren ( D-Mass.) had about 65.

“We are running a campaign to win the Iowa caucuses,” Brendan McPhillips, Buttigieg’s Iowa state director, said in a statement. “At every town hall and event Pete attends, the energy and momentum behind our campaign is palpable. Pete understands our country is facing a make or break moment—and he’s offering a bold vision to break with the past and create a better future for our country. And that’s resonating with Iowans. Our organizers have been working across the state to capture that excitement and turn it into a grassroots operation that will push our campaign across the finish line on caucus night. This announcement builds on our already strong organizing program to make sure that we have the organization needed to win.”

At present, Buttigieg is running fifth in Iowa, a state his aides have consistently described as crucial to his prospects. According to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, he is currently running fifth in the state with 7.5%, behind Harris (13.5%), Sanders (14%), Warren (18%), and Biden (26%). On Monday, he visited the state for the eighth time since July 1.

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, Buttigieg announced Monday that he would open 12 field offices and add 14 additional organizers. Buttigieg has hired Victoria Williams, the former counsel and operations director to Sen. Maggie Hassan, as his state director. In some ways, the Granite State could be even more friendly to Buttigieg. There, he is running in fifth at 7%, just behind Harris (5%), Warren (14.7%), Sanders (19.3%), and Biden (21%).

“Granite State voters want a president like Pete who has the courage to break with the past and address the urgent challenges facing this country — from the gun violence epidemic to the climate crisis,” said Kevin Donohoe, Buttigieg’s communications director in the state. “Over the spring and summer, we’ve been excited by the strong grassroots energy across New Hampshire for Pete and his vision for this country. By expanding our team and opening a dozen offices, we’ll be able to continue to grow our community of volunteers, expand our grassroots campaign, and win the first-in-the-nation primary.”

The moves come as Buttigieg faces a race that is increasingly a three-way contest between Biden, Sanders and Warren. Can Buttigieg keep his fundraising prowess up? Here’s what he told reporters on the trail yesterday:

Good Tuesday morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. Labor Day is in the rearview mirror, and campaign season is officially revving up.

Spotted at Half Liter BBQ yesterday: Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, shoveling down a farmer’s market chop salad topped with brisket. The mayor, I’m told, walked there roughly 6.5 miles from his home and wore a Central Theological Seminary hat, a nod to one of his several alma maters.

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WHERE’S VEEP? He departs Shannon, Ireland, en route to Dublin on Air Force Two. There, he'll participate in a welcome coffee with the president of Ireland. Later, in a photo-op that will raise eyebrows, he’ll have lunch with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Dr. Matthew Barrett.


Gov. Eric Holcomb announces his campaign team this morning.

  • Deputy Campaign Manager and Political Director: Joe Elsener

  • Finance Director: Mindy Colbert

  • Deputy Campaign Manager: Matt Huckleby

Kyle Hupfer, campaign manager of the Eric Holcomb for Indiana campaign, said in a statement: “Every member of the team, from our top staff to our supporters and our volunteers, knows that they're a valuable part our mission of making Indiana the very best state in the nation to call home.”

Per the campaign: “This campaign news comes as internal polling shows Governor Holcomb with an impressive statewide approval rating at 61 percent, including a 68 percent approval rating in Marion County, 67 percent approval rating in Indiana’s doughnut counties and 61 percent approval in the Chicago media market. This trend continues across ideological, geographic and racial demographics, and makes Governor Holcomb one of the nation's most popular governors.”

EXTRA, EXTRA: Dr. Woody Myers ramped up his presence on the campaign trail this past weekend after a relatively quiet August, as he aims to unseat Holcomb. He participated in events in Indianapolis, Lafayette and Terre Haute.


Your weekly look-ahead.

TUESDAY: Hogsett rides the Red Line to the Red Line Party at the statehouse with Rep. Andre Carson.

WEDNESDAY: Buttigieg participates in CNN’s climate crisis town hall, and will be interviewed by Chris Cuomo at 10 p.m.

THURSDAY: Sen. Mike Braun appears at the Pike GOP Ice Cream Social at 5:30 p.m.; Jim Morris holds a 6 p.m. fundraiser for Rep. Jim Banks (IN-3) at Meridian Hills Country Club; Chasten Buttigieg and Pete For America Campaign Manager Mike Schmuhl launch a tour around New Hampshire to open offices in Manchester, Concord, Lebanon, Laconia, Claremont, Keene, Nashua and Derry.

SATURDAY: Buttigieg begins a two-day swing to New Hampshire where he’ll appear at the state’s Democratic Convention, marking his his tenth trip to the state.


  • On Fox59’S InFocus podcast, we hear: who won the first Indianapolis mayoral debate, about Buttigieg's debate prep, and a one-on-one interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

  • Hogsett has so far spent $1 million on television ads, I’m told.


Maureen Groppe, USA Today: “Mike Pence has a deep affection for Ireland. It's not completely reciprocated.”

On a trip to Ireland as a young man, Mike Pence was helping out behind the bar at a cousin’s pub in the village of Doonbeg when he boasted about his Irish heritage to a customer.

“You don’t have to tell me, son,” Pence remembers the old woman responding. “You’ve got a face like the map of Ireland.”

That map is also seared into his heart.

Of all the foreign trips that the heavily traveled vice president has made in nearly three years, none will be as personal as his visit to Ireland Monday and Tuesday.

Michael Richard Pence was very close to Richard Michael Cawley, the Ireland-born grandfather whom he was named after.

And he sees the trajectory of a second-generation American landing in the White House as the embodiment of the American dream.

“It’s a testament not to that grandson, but to a great nation,” Pence said in April.

But while many in Ireland are proud of the close connection, others are less enthused.

“We’ve moved. Don’t call,” a caricature artist from Galway tweeted in response to Pence’s announcement of his trip.

That the vice president could speak so frequently and emotionally of his family’s immigration story while President Donald Trump has taken such a hard line on migrants and refugees has struck some as hypocritical.

David Catanese, McClatchy: “‘Flip the switch:’ Stuck in the polls, Buttigieg plans to beef up campaign staff

Pete Buttigieg, who has dazzled Democratic donors but plateaued in the polls, plans to accelerate his presidential campaign in the coming weeks, with a concerted push to transform his fundraising success into fastened support in the early nominating states.

The South Bend mayor’s campaign is expected to announce in the coming days a flurry of staffing hires and new office openings in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as a director of African-American engagement, who will be crucial to outreach in South Carolina and other southern states that follow.

“Labor Day for us is really going to be a turning point,” said Mike Schmuhl, Buttigieg’s campaign manager. “It’s when we’ll flip the switch.”

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