Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg held a Baltimore fundraiser Thursday in which he discussed issues facing the city and was presented with a Lamar Jackson jersey.
After delivering remarks to about 140 donors at the home of neurosurgeon Neal Naff, Buttigieg touted a plan — which he has named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass — in response to a question about how he would help Baltimore if elected president.
The plan emphasizes criminal justice and health reforms and improving access to credit and capital in the black community.
“Criminal justice reform is imperative," Buttigieg said, according to a pool report prepared by CBS News. Local media was not permitted into the event.
“But we can’t get traction on that if we’re not also talking about issues of economic empowerment. And it’s hard to talk about that without talking about education, which is why I need to be supporting HBCUs,” Buttigieg said, referring to historically black colleges and universities.
As he wrapped up, Buttigieg was presented with a jersey like the one worn by Jackson — the popular Ravens quarterback — and displayed it for the audience, according to the pool report.
The candidate’s supporters say the reception showcased Buttigieg’s early Maryland support.
“Several current and former elected officials have endorsed Pete and there is a vibrant community of volunteers across the state who have been holding debate watch parties, other ‘PeteUps’ and representing Pete at community events,” said Democratic activist Susie Turnbull, who was the running mate of Ben Jealous in his unsuccessful gubernatorial run in 2018.
Among those backing Buttigieg are state Dels. Maggie McIntosh and Luke Clippinger, both of Baltimore, Pat Young of Baltimore County and Del. Kirill Reznik of Montgomery County. Buttigieg is scheduled to attend another fundraiser in Montgomery County on Friday.
Naff said that others who were scheduled to attend on Thursday included Baltimore County Council chairman Tom Quirk, former Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler and Salisbury Mayor Jake Day.
According to the city’s website, Naff is a member of the Baltimore LGBTQ Commission, an advisory panel about issues of concern affecting the LGBTQ community.
“I’m not particularly political,” the surgeon said before the event. But he said he had attended previous fundraisers with Buttigieg, and “I think he is the best equipped to restore unity to our country.”
Other Democrats in the presidential field have also been seeking donations in the state. Multiple events have been held for former vice president Joe Biden, according to state Sen. James Rosapepe, a Biden supporter.
Maryland Policy & Politics Newsletter
Keep up to date with Maryland politics, elections and important decisions made by federal, state and local government officials.
Buttigieg’s Baltimore reception had ticket prices of $2,800, $1,000 and $500, according to his campaign website. The $2,800 ticket entitled the donor to a “pre-reception” with Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Buttigieg has said he doesn’t accept contributions from corporate political action committees, federal lobbyists or the fossil fuel industry.
The candidate appeared at a July fundraiser in Riverdale Park in Prince George’s County.
His state donors include Eli Cohen ($5,600), a Montgomery County-based executive with an investment advisory firm; former state Del. Dick D’Amato ($1,000); and Democratic strategist and media consultant Martha McKenna ($500), according to Federal Election Commission records.
Two other top-tier candidates — Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — have said they won’t participate in big-money fundraisers, although both have had success online attracting small donors from Maryland.