Pete Buttigieg, Accused of Claiming False Endorsements from Black South Carolina Leaders, Continues to Struggle with Black Voter Support

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has struggled to gain support in the Black community, and a report about erroneous endorsements in South Carolina aren’t going to help is popularity much.

While a CNN/Des Moines Register poll has him as the now-frontrunner in Iowa, the Mayor of South Bend receives less than 1% of support from Black voters.

A reason for this could be Mayor Pete’s firing of South Bend’s first Black police chief who illegally recorded members of his own department as they tossed around racial slurs about him.

Other reasons could be fact that Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate to run for president, his youth and lack of experience and just plan electability.

Whatever it may be, it’s clear that Black voters haven’t embraced the down-home charm of Mayor Pete.

One way Buttigieg hopes to bridge the gap with black voters, especially those in South Carolina, is with his Douglass Plan, named after famed black abolitionist Fredrick Douglass, which was rolled out by the campaign in July.

The Douglass Plan, according to its website is “a comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems combined with an equally intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans.

“This includes reforming broken criminal justice and health systems, strengthening access to credit and injecting capital into the Black community, and taking bold steps toward fulfilling long-broken promises of true equity.”

Why is South Carolina crucial to the success of his plan? Well, its primary is just over three months away, and is the first primary state with a substantial black population at 27%, which is 14% greater than the national average. And much like the rest of the country, Buttigieg has received less that 1% of Black support in the state according a recent Quinnipiac poll.

In support of the Douglass Plan, Buttigieg’s campaign released a memo that showed substantial support from 400 key prominent South Carolinians.

A Washington Post story noted, “Buttigieg persuaded hundreds of prominent black South Carolinians to sign onto the plan even if they are not supporting Buttigieg himself.”

Along with the press release was an open letter in the HBCU Times stating the support underneath a byline from “Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist Pastor and State Rep. Ivory Thigpen, and more than 400 Douglass Plan endorsers.”

“There is one presidential candidate who has proven to have intentional policies designed to make a difference in the Black experience, and that’s Pete Buttigieg. We are over 400 South Carolinians, including business owners, pastors, community leaders, and students. Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate.”

But there is only one problem with all this, two actually; none of the names listed as authors of the HBCU Times piece have endorsed Buttigieg, nor have they endorsed the Douglass Plan. And nearly 50% of the 400 so-called supporters aren’t Black but white.

“How it was rolled out was not an accurate representation of where I stand,” Thigpen told The Intercept. “I didn’t know about its rolling out. Somebody brought it to my attention, and it was alarming to me, because even though I had had conversations with the campaign, it was clear to me, or at least I thought I made it clear to them, that I was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter — actually co-chair of the state, and I was not seeking to endorse their candidate or the plan. But what I had talked about was potentially giving them a quote of support in continuing the conversation, because I do think it’s a very important conversation.

“I was alarmed and very much surprised to see, particularly, the headline as such because I do think it muddies the water,” added Thigpen. “I do think it was a misrepresentation, and it easily could have confused a lot of people as to where I stood.”

Devine and Cordero both informed The Intercept that they, too, have not endorsed any candidate and had no intention of endorsing the plan, either.

“I never endorsed that plan,” Cordero told The Intercept. “I don’t know how my name got on there. No, that’s not true: I know how my name got on there.”

Cordero explained to The Intercept reporter that Buttigieg had reached out to him for support and feedback, which led to talks with the campaign.

>“It’s presumptuous to think you can come up with a plan for Black America without hearing from Black folk,” Cordero told The Intercept. “There’s nothing in there that said Black folk had anything to do with the drafting of that plan.

Now I like Pete, please don’t get me wrong. I’ll help him in any way I can. I think he’s an honest man, I think he’s a decent man, I think he has integrity. I’d like to see him keep running. But you don’t do that. Those days are over and done with. We’re tired of people telling us what we need. You wanna find out what we need? Come and ask us.”

The Buttigieg campaign sent out an email about the announcement of 400 Black supporters for the Douglass Plan, and that the receiver of the email’s name would be attached as an endorser of the Douglass Plan if they did not opt out by 4 p.m. that afternoon.

“Given that you have signed on an endorser, you will be included in the list of endorsements attached to the opinion piece. If you do not want your name included, please let us know by 4 pm ET today,” read the email signed by Tim Ross, the South Carolina Organizing Director for Buttigieg.

Ross’ email clearly states that all of the 400 supporters are Black, but, according to Slate, 184 of the 400 are white, which is a staggering 46 percent.

None of this bodes well for Mayor Pete growing support among Black voters, but it gets worse.

The Buttigieg campaign, in promoting their Douglass Plan to Black voters, used a stock image of not an African-American, but a woman and small child from Kenya.

The backlash from the use of the photo was swift.

“This is not ok or necessary [facepalm emoji],” tweeted Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali-born refugee.

Buttigieg’s campaign has since taken down the image, but plenty of damage has already been done, it appears.