SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) --- Kevin Lawler, Director of Communications for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, released the following statement Tuesday night:
"Right now the mayor is focused on serving the City of South Bend. He has been listening and talking to fellow local and state leaders about the future of our country and the Democratic Party at a natural time for these conversations to happen."
NewsCenter16 spoke with St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairman Jason Critchlow regarding the Politico report, which suggested that the South Bend mayor was debating a bid for the DNC chair. Critchlow echoed the mayor's press secretary. He said callers are gauging Buttigieg's interest.
"(Mayor Buttigieg) believes he owes them all the respect to hear them out and listen to what they have to say, but as I told you before, he doesn’t have one foot in, one foot out," explained Critchlow. "I think, right now, Mayor Pete’s focus is still on South Bend. I wouldn’t say he’s considering (a run), wouldn’t say he’s testing the waters."
The local party chairman dismissed talk of Buttigieg using the mayoral role as a launch pad for greener pastures.
"I think it's an unfair characterization at this point. If Mayor Pete was looking for his first opportunity to jump ship out of South Bend, he would have done it a long time ago," Critchlow added.
Touting the mayor's collaborative leadership style, Critchlow says Buttigieg -- or someone like him -- could mend the identity of the Democratic Party.
"He’s this guy in Indiana, right in the heart of where they say the Democratic Party struggles the most, but Mayor Pete Buttigieg is succeeding," commented Critchlow.
Currently, Donna Brazile serves as the interim head of the Democratic National Committee. She took over the party when Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down in July amid an e-mail hack, suggesting the DNC preferred Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee.
Critchlow said it's too speculative on Buttigieg joining -- and winning -- the race for the party's national leader. However, he explained elected officials sometimes retain their political roles while serving as DNC chair.
Politico released a report Tuesday saying Mayor Pete Buttigieg is considering throwing his hat in the ring for the DNC chair.
The article cites anonymous sources who say he's been in talks with other DNC members, and he's "listening and thinking about it."
Mayor Pete hasn't confirmed those reports. We're working on contacting his staff for comment.