Pete Buttigieg is the young, gay, Maltese-American mayor who might just be taking on Donald Trump to become the leader of the free world – and one Maltese political animal may have had a hand in all of that a whole three years ago.
Brendan Zerafa, who has worked in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and currently works within the Office of the Prime Minister, has a passion for politics. And when he found out a Maltese man was seriously on the rise in US politics, he reached out to Pete to see how he could help.
“Well, I’ve been following Pete for quite some time,” Brendan told Lovin Malta. “I found the fact that he managed to transform a Mid-Western city which was in decline to a growing one quite a success, so I tried to keep up to date with his endeavours.”
“It was January 2017, and Pete had announced his run for Chairman of the Democratic Party,” Brendan recounts.
“I messaged his campaign and informed them that I’d like to volunteer,” he continued. “By then, I had already had some experience volunteering for other candidates, and my design skills were improving, so I offered to do some designs for his social media campaign.”
Buttigieg’s campaign staff were a bit confused as to why someone who wasn’t even American would want to work for free to help elect Pete as DNC chairman – but quickly got on board when they saw what he could create.
“His campaign staff liked my designs and that’s how it all started,” Brendan smiled.
“Later on, I’d go on to even design the buttons for his campaigns,” he recounted. “I remember that the message on the buttons was #PickPete for DNC Chair on a light blue background with #PickPete highlighted in red.”
A few months later, Pete came to Malta on one of his regular visits – and his husband Chasten asked Brendan to meet up for a chat.
“We went for a coffee in Valletta and had a really interesting discussion on American politics as well as the prospects for the Democrats under a Trump administration,” Brendan reminisced.
The conversation soon turned to Pete’s own political prospects.
“Pete had asked me what I thought about the 2020 election, and the candidates that were being mentioned for the Democratic nomination,” Brendan continued. “I remember telling him that I was concerned that all the candidates that were being mentioned for the nomination were of a certain age. He agreed with those concerns as he had already mentioned in his run for DNC Chair that the Democrats needed to engage more youths.”
With a background in politics, Brendan knew where the conversation was going, and gave Pete his honest thoughts.
“When discussing this issue, I knew what he was aiming at because politicians ask around before deciding whether to run for office or not,” Brendan smiled.
“So I told him: ‘You should go for it!’ And he simply smiled at me when I said this.”
Brendan describes Pete as “very smart, very sharp and down to earth”.
“Pete and Chasten even paid for my coffee when we met in Valletta!” Brendan smiles.
While Brendan has not had anything to do with Buttigieg’s current run for President of the United States, he is still following the Maltese-American’s run to the top of world politics. He’s hopeful for Pete’s future, even though he is going to go against one of Brendan’s other preferred American politicians.
“I think after Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s going to either be him or Bernie Sanders who will get the nomination – so it’s a tough one for me to take sides,” he ends. “However since I am Maltese and not American I have the advantage of being able to support them both without having to make a decision myself.”