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Los Angeles Times - June 23, 2019

"For some black residents, Buttigieg had already failed the biggest chance he had to build trust with the community, back when he was first elected to the mayor’s office in 2011 as a 29-year-old."

The tragedy unfolded in Buttigieg’s city on June 16, and it would be difficult to imagine a domestic crisis more nightmarish for a mayor and a presidential candidate who has enjoyed a largely carefree rise to the top tier of Democratic contestants.

Buttigieg’s lack of popularity among black voters nationally — a crucial demographic for winning the Democratic primary and then the presidency – was already one of his biggest weaknesses in a contest dominated by racial justice issues like never before. Buttigieg had recently been laying the groundwork to win over some of those skeptical voters in states such as South Carolina.

But now the shooting has highlighted the racial tension right on Buttigieg’s home turf, revealing for a national audience the pain and anger that has long festered among South Bend’s black residents.

“I’m not surprised,” said Mario Sims, 67, the pastor of the nondenominational Dolos Chapel, who is black.

“This was a trail of gasoline that was waiting to be ignited, and last week it ignited,” Sims said of the hometown strife now surrounding Buttigieg.

Until now, Buttigieg had enjoyed a charmed and improbable role in the presidential primary as the mayor of a Rust Belt city whose population barely tops 100,000, a 37-year-old in a field dominated by two 70-somethings.

He’d been lifted in the polls — and into television green rooms — by his gifts as a communicator and by his singular biography as an openly gay veteran who reads James Joyce and speaks several languages.

His mere existence as a liberal force in conservative Indiana suggested an alternative path for Democrats fighting to rebuild support in the nation’s heartland. ...
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