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‘Mayor Pete’ adds Turlock to presidential campaign trail
Mayor Pete
Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a FOX News Channel Town Hall at the River Center on Jan. 26 in Des Moines, Iowa. Buttigieg will be the featured speaker at the Stanislaus County Democratic Party’s annual gala being held on Feb. 14 in Turlock (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik).

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg will be in Turlock on Valentine’s Day.

The youngest contender in the race and first openly-gay candidate to build a major campaign for the presidency will speak during a Stanislaus County Democratic Party fundraiser at the Assyrian American Civic Club on Feb. 14 — an event meant not to raise funds for Buttigieg, but for the local Democratic party looking to help more elected offices turn blue.

“He’s just a speaker at our annual gala, which we hold every year to honor local Democrats,” SCDP controller Elizabeth Talbott said. “We always try to get a great speaker, but this year we were committed to getting a presidential candidate to come.”

The last presidential candidate to visit the Central Valley was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who visited Modesto during his 2016 campaign. Typically, the Valley is overlooked by presidential candidates making campaign rounds for more populous areas, like San Francisco or Los Angeles.

“I think a lot of people running write off the more rural areas of California,” Talbott said. “That’s why it’s particularly exciting that Pete’s willing to come. He’s not making a dime off of it — he’s just giving us an hour of his time during the busy primary season to help us get more down-ballot candidates elected.”

According to Talbott, SCDP reached out to every Democratic candidate. While some showed interest, Buttigieg was the only one who was able to confirm a date when he could speak. With so many Democratic candidates it’s likely that not all of the party’s supporters agree with Buttigieg’s politics, Talbott said, but locals are still excited to see a presidential candidate in person.

“He’s not everyone’s first choice and he knows that. None of them are everyone’s first choice,” Talbott said. “I think anytime you get to meet a presidential candidate or to even be in the room with them feels like you’re a part of history.”

Talbott added that SCDP is actively trying to entice other Democratic candidates to visit the area.

“I think that individual contact with places is important and necessary whether you’re running for president or city council,” she said. “I would hope that more and more candidates on the national level see Stanislaus County and the Central Valley in general as key parts of the state. There are lots of Democrats here and lots of folks aligned with their values.”

The fundraiser, a “Rhapsody in Blue Gala,” will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 14 and is open to the public. Individual tickets and tables, as well as the opportunity for a meet-and-greet with Buttigieg, can be purchased through the link provided on the gala’s Facebook event page. For more information, contact SCDP at 209-248-0742.