We’re building a movement to elect Mayor Pete. Here’s how.

Greta Carnes
Oct 1 · 4 min read
Left: Dubuque, Iowa in 2012; Right: South Bend, Indiana in 2019

Hi! I’m Greta Carnes, Pete Buttigieg’s National Organizing Director. I started organizing when I was 15 years old — I didn’t have my drivers license yet so my dad had to drive me across town to knock doors for Barack Obama. I fell in love with organizing, and I feel so lucky to be here building a national organizing program to elect Mayor Pete.

I started on this campaign back in snowy April. We were a team of three, then ten, then twenty, then fifty. We did a LOT of work over the summer laying the groundwork for our organizing program across the country. And now that we’ve raised $19.1 million from 580,000 donors this past quarter (!!!) we’re about to do a lot more.

You may have read about “Phase Three” or the “Pete Wave,” but if you haven’t, here’s some context:

“The first phase was just getting people to understand how to pronounce this impossible to pronounce Maltese last name,” Lis Smith, a senior adviser to the campaign who has been with Buttigieg from the start, told BuzzFeed News. “The second phase was to blow everyone out of the water on fundraising….Done. Now the third phase is blow them out of the water with our organization and our organizational abilities.

Lis is right. We are building the infrastructure we need to win the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries — and then win the nomination.

Here’s how we’re doing it.

We’re investing in relationship-focused organizing.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: We aren’t just trying to win an election; we’re trying to win an era. And one of the ways we win the era is by building real infrastructure on the ground and having authentic, personal discussions about the issues that affect us and our communities.

That’s why we’re investing in an organizing strategy that empowers supporters to organize their own friends, family, coworkers, and networks. We know that YOU calling your best friend and talking about Pete — why you chose Pete, why Pete gives you hope, why you need your mom to not only vote in the primary but also volunteer — will be more effective than me calling your best friend. (Your best friend probably won’t even pick up the phone if I call her).

We’re embedding in communities.

My favorite part of every day is seeing the creative ways our organizers are meeting people where they are. When I was an organizer, I spent every day sitting in my office making phone calls. But on this campaign, we want to give our organizers the chance to get out of their offices and embed themselves in their communities.

A few months ago, some of our organizers in New Hampshire entered a cast iron cook-off and won (and recruited volunteers while broiling!). The organizers in South Carolina spend part of every week doing service to give back to the communities where they live. And every day, our organizers in Iowa and Nevada flood my Twitter feed with photos of them talking to Pete supporters at farmers markets, holding potlucks in the park, high school #PeteUps, meeting for board games and #ButtiBrunches (loved that one in particular), and even going bowling.

We’re making volunteering more accessible.

On our campaign, you don’t have to knock doors or make phone calls to be a volunteer. My mom talks to the people she swims with and sends me emails every week with the subject line “I’m organizing!” My dad wears his ‘BOOT EDGE EDGE’ shirt to run errands each weekend and talks to people about Pete. My little sister in Arizona has been passing around Mayor Pete’s book to everyone she goes to school with.

We want to make volunteering more accessible because we know our team is stronger when we have a diverse coalition of voices in the room and across the country. Anyone who talks to anyone — their friends, family, union members, or people in their church group — is a volunteer.

And we are rapidly scaling our team.

You may have read about this, but we are currently supercharging our organizational muscle. Last month, we hired over 150 staffers and opened 41 new offices in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina (!!!). We are showing folks that we’re ready to meet the moment — and we are ready to win.

There are 124 days until the Iowa Caucus. We need to make the most out of every one of them. We can’t just organize harder than everyone else — we have to organize smarter than everyone else. And we’re doing that by ramping up a relationship-focused organizing program that turns supporters into organizers and builds real connections in communities.

Organizing changed my life. It taught me how to connect with people who have different life experiences than me and it showed me how I can empower others. Our whole team here is committed to creating an organizing culture that respects each other, that brings out the best in all of us, that gives everyone a sense of belonging, and that finds joy every day in the work we are lucky enough to do.

Please join us and be a part of our historic movement. We’d love to have you!

The Moment by Pete for America

Greta Carnes

Written by

currently: national organizing director for pete buttigieg. formerly: digital for hillary clinton, organizing for barack obama.

The Moment by Pete for America

Notes from Pete Buttigieg, his team, and everyday Americans uniting to meet our nation’s urgent challenges.

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