Volunteers and supporters cheered as Democratic political candidate Pete Buttigieg addressed a crowd of supporters at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday afternoon. Media swarmed to get footage of the former mayor and veteran. Meticulously set metal folding chairs offered seats for both frequent followers and people hearing Buttigieg speak live for the first time.
The unofficial Buttigieg rally was the first political campaign experience for volunteer Jim Jaworskr. He knew Buttigieg as his mayor in South Bend, Indiana, in 2011 when the candidate was first elected. Although the two have never officially met personally, Jaworskr said he remembers seeing Buttigieg around coffee shops and casually greeting him nine years ago.
Jaworskr owns a roofing company in South Bend but in the slow season this winter, he trusted his employees to handle things as he began volunteering to further support his mayor.
“He’s a public servant,” Jaworskr said. “He truly is for the well-being of the citizens. It’s not about him.”
Jaworskr volunteers primarily by phone banking on behalf of Pete Buttigieg to spread the idea for other citizens to vote him through the campaign and onto presidency. He estimated he’s made about 7,000 calls already. Jaworskr said he chose this political campaign as his first one to get involved in because he believed that Buttigieg didn’t follow the tactics of what he believed other politicians did.
“This isn’t an act. It’s not just another performance,” Jaworskr said.
For the rally, Jaworskr monitored the gate between the media and Buttigieg’s run-way to and from his public speaking platform. Jaworskr had already rehearsed the greeting and encouragement he’d share with his the candidate in his head had Buttigieg paused to speak with supporters right away.
“I’d shake his hand and say, ‘Go get ‘em, Tiger!’
Lana Baker of Crittenden County, Kentucky, was at the rally with the organization, Barnstormers for Pete, a group of traveling supporters of Buttigieg.
“It was wonderful. It’s my first time I’ve heard him speak in person other than debates. It was wildly exciting,” Baker said.
Baker said she appreciated his kindness and inclusivity.
“No ‘send him to jail,’ or ‘drain the swamp.’ I mean, what swamp is there to drain?” Baker said.
Baker used to be a teacher, so Buttigieg’s education policy is important to her, she said. She said she also approves his approach to health care and getting people the help they need in an affordable way. Baker said she has friends that she knows need help for issues that haven’t been addressed for a long time
Volunteers like Jaworskr said they intend to continue supporting Buttigieg throughout the campaigning process.
“Oh, I’ll get back on the phone. My work is not done,” Jaworskr said.
Lana Baker said she is hopeful about the caucuses starting up in Iowa that will give other voters across the nation an idea about the general opinion or approval of each Democratic candidate.
“I feel really good. And maybe he’s not everyone’s first choice, but he may be a lot of other peoples’ second choice. And that matters for something.”