Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s dream of a 2020 presidential run may be over, but he’s still comparing himself to the field of Democratic candidates.
Garcetti, 49, quipped that he’s an “older, straighter Pete” Buttigieg during a speech Thursday, likening himself to the former South Bend, Ind., mayor because they both served in the Navy Reserve. Both politicians also are Rhodes scholars and play the piano.
It wasn’t the first time Garcetti has linked himself to Buttigieg, 38, now a top-tier presidential candidate who came in second in this week’s New Hampshire primary.
“It’s nice to have Pete be like my mayoral avatar, to show that the theory was correct and that there is, I think, a hunger for a new, outside-Washington mayoral leadership,” Garcetti told the Atlantic earlier this year.
If elected, Buttigieg would be the youngest president in U.S. history, the first openly gay chief executive and the first candidate ever to go directly from City Hall to the White House. He has joked that he is “definitely the only left-handed, Maltese American Episcopalian gay millennial war veteran in the race.”
He stood alongside Garcetti in 2017 in South Bend at the launch of Accelerator for America, a nonprofit founded by the L.A. mayor to spur transportation and “opportunity zones,” areas where developers and other businesses receive tax breaks in return for investments. Buttigieg served as an advisor to the nonprofit.
Garcetti’s longtime political consultant, Rick Jacobs, attended Buttigieg’s 2018 wedding.
Despite his friendship with Buttigieg, Garcetti is backing former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.
The L.A. mayor spent two years weighing whether to make a bid for the White House, but announced last year he would stay out of the race.
“What we have right here in Los Angeles sets the pace for the nation,” he said at the time, drawing a contrast with the partisan fighting that blocks action in Washington.