Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate vying for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, entered the primary race as one of the lesser-known contenders. But his campaign has picked up momentum and his team has grown significantly since officially launching in mid-April.
The growth is due in part thanks to a major fundraising haul. Pete for America announced on July 1 that it had raised $24.8 million in the second quarter of 2019, which is more than triple the amount the campaign raised in the first quarter.
Here’s what you need to know about some of the senior members of the Buttigieg campaign staff.
1. Campaign Manager Mike Schmuhl Went to High School With Buttigieg & Served as His Chief of Staff in South Bend
Pete Buttigieg tapped a familiar face for his campaign manager: Mike Schmuhl. Schmuhl ran Buttigieg’s mayoral campaigns and served as his chief of staff in South Bend, Indiana.
The two have been friends since their teenage years. They went to Catholic school together at St. Joseph High. According to the South Bend Tribune, Schmuhl earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and previously worked at the Washington Post.
Schmuhl’s first major political job was serving as Joe Donnelly’s campaign manager in 2010. (Donnelly represented Indiana in the House from 2007-2013 and served in the Senate from 2013 to 2018).
Schmuhl resigned as Buttigieg’s chief of staff in 2013 in order to pursue a master’s degree. He studied international affairs at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
But he wasn’t gone from the Buttigieg team for very long. According to the Federal Election Commission, Schmuhl was serving as Treasurer of Buttigieg’s fundraising committee called “Hitting Home PAC” in 2018. He is still listed as its Treasurer. The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics, says Schmuhl was paid about $25,000 from the PAC in 2018.
2. Lis Smith, the Chief Communications Adviser, is a Former Obama Campaign Staffer & Democratic Commentator
Lis Smith is leading the charge in terms of media coverage for the Pete Buttigieg campaign. She has worked on more than 20 Democratic campaigns, according to her Twitter bio and is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
In 2015 and 2016, Smith was the Deputy Campaign Manager for Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign. (He dropped out of the Democratic primary in early February of 2016). Smith frequently appeared on CBSN as a political analyst throughout the remainder of the 2016 election. (Full disclosure: This writer was working for CBSN at that time and met and produced political interviews in which Smith appeared).
Smith’s credentials include working as a senior communications advisor for Governor O’Malley’s political action committee; representing current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during his campaign and while he was the mayor-elect; the Director of Rapid Response for President Obama’s re-election campaign; and Communications Director for former Ohio governor Ted Strickland’s re-election campaign in 2010. (Strickland lost to John Kasich that year).
Smith made headlines in 2014 and 2015 for her personal life. She dated former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was 23 years her senior.
3. Marcus Switzer, a Veteran Staffer of the Obama & Clinton Campaigns, Joined the Buttigieg Team as Finance Director in Late 2018
Pete Buttigieg brought on another veteran of national Democratic campaigns to serve as the national Finance Director: Marcus Switzer. Switzer runs his own fundraising company called the Switzer Consulting Group, which he founded in April of 2018.
Switzer is a graduate of Duke University and according to his LinkedIn profile, working in the White House was one of his first jobs. He worked as an “Information Specialist” for nine months during President Obama’s first term. Switzer’s next role was with the Democratic National Committee, where he worked as the Deputy Finance Director for the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions.
In March of 2011, Switzer joined President Obama’s re-election campaign in a similar capacity as Deputy Finance Director. He was also on the African American Leadership Council, which he remained a part of after the election was over and he returned to the DNC until October of 2013.
After 18 months in the private sector, Switzer went back to the campaign world in April of 2015 and served as Hillary Clinton’s Deputy National Finance Director.
4. Stephen Brokaw, the National Political Director, is Another Alum of the Obama Campaign
Stephen Brokaw, who attended Harvard at the same time Pete Buttigieg was a student, joined Pete for America as the National Political Director at the beginning of the campaign.
Brokaw graduated from Harvard in 2006 and went on to work for the Obama campaign, according to his Linkedin profile. His various roles between 2007 and 2009 included assistant to the national field director before, Nevada constituency director, Delegate Tracker for Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, and Senior Political Generalist in Ohio. Brokaw did not become a member of President Obama’s staff after the election. Instead, he went back to school for his law degree, which he earned from the University of Illinois in 2012.
Brokaw returned to the Obama team after law school to serve as the Digital Project Manager. Over the last several years he has been a law firm associate, served as general counsel for 270 Strategies, and worked in marketing at Google.
5. Chris Meagher, the National Press Secretary, Joined the Campaign in Early April of 2019
Chris Meagher, 36, is Pete Buttigieg’s national press secretary. He joined the campaign in April of 2019. He told the South Bend Tribune that he was drawn to Mayor Pete’s team because of his “message of generational leadership.”
According to his Linkedin profile, Meagher began his career as a newspaper reporter before getting into politics. He served as the communications director for Rep. Lois Capps, first during the campaign and then on Capitol Hill. He also previously worked as the communications director for “Montanans For Tester.” Senator Jon Tester was re-elected in 2018.
Meagher has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and a law degree from Santa Barbara College of Law.