Mike Bloomberg has spent years building relationships and political capital among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He’s now drawing on those contacts to build momentum for his unorthodox Democratic presidential run.
Establishment Democrats in Congress are buzzing about the former New York City mayor and wealthy business titan, whose late entry into the White House race and pledge to spend as much as $1 billion of his personal fortune to defeat Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden assures supporters the primary is still ‘wide open’ in lengthy phone call: report Warren: We are watching a descent into authoritarianismCollins: Trump ‘angered by impeachment’MORE has thrown a wild card into the partys crowded primary.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg landed endorsements from a trio of Congressional Black Caucus members Reps. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksOcasio-Cortez defends decision not to pay dues to House Democratic campaign armHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlashHouse Democrats urge financial regulators to defend against Iranian cyberattacksMORE (D-N.Y.) and Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathBloomberg nabs three endorsements from Congressional Black Caucus amid stop and frisk controversyGiffords gun reform group backs eight ‘strong women’ in House reelection bids The most expensive congressional races of the last decadeMORE (D-Ga.), and Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sanders surge triggers Dem angstBloomberg nabs three endorsements from Congressional Black Caucus amid stop and frisk controversyUS Virgin Islands delegate vies for impeachment manager position MORE (D-Virgin Islands) just a day after he came under fire for a 2015 recording of him defending the controversial policing policy known as stop and frisk from when he was mayor.
On Thursday, House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchDemocrats offer mixed reactions to Trump’s Mideast peace planUS officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum Bipartisan lawmakers condemn Iran, dispute State Department on number of protesters killedMORE (D-Fla.) jumped on the Bloomberg bus. The 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took place in Deutchs district, and he said Bloombergs fight against gun violence helped win his support just a day before the two-year anniversary of the mass shooting.
The four announcements bring the number of Bloomberg’s House endorsements to 13. More than half of those endorsements have come in the past week alone, as Bloomberg has risen to third place in national polling behind Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden assures supporters the primary is still ‘wide open’ in lengthy phone call: report Limbaugh on Buttigieg: ‘America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage’CNN announces Democratic town halls in Nevada MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLimbaugh on Buttigieg: ‘America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage’CNN announces Democratic town halls in Nevada Where 2020 candidates stand in Super Tuesday pollsMORE, who had disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
I see him gaining in the polls. I see him running a real campaign. I see him putting out messages into paid communications, speaking to people around tackling climate change, addressing gun violence in America balancing our budget, lowering our deficit and running a government that is inclusive and for everybody, a fired-up Rep. Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensManufacturers group kicks off campaign to close the industry’s skills gapVulnerable Democrats fret over surging SandersBloomberg wins endorsement from Democrat who flipped Michigan seatMORE (D-Mich.) told reporters, just days after she endorsed Bloomberg.
“Hes surging in the polls, and people are responding to the fact that, when they see numbers, he is beating Trump by the most,” added Stevens, who flipped a Trump district in 2018.
More than any of his 2020 rivals, the 77-year-old Bloomberg has been aggressively courting congressional Democrats in recent weeks, said several lawmakers who have been contacted. Members of Team Bloomberg have been texting and calling nonstop, listening to ideas and laying out the former mayors vision and strategy to win the wide-open primary and oust Trump in November.
His campaign is probably the most effective when it comes to reaching out to members of Congress, relentlessly and thoughtfully, said one House Democrat who is backing another 2020 Democrat but has received several phone calls from Bloombergs people. Phone calls and invitations, lots of intentional, proactive conversations and listening sessions with members, which indicate a campaign that is well staffed, well prepared, and has a good strategy.”
Campaigning is a game of invitations, the lawmaker added. You don’t always accept an invitation, but you remember you got one.
Bloomberg has been playing the inside game for years. In recent election cycles, the billionaires super PAC has showered Democrats with tens of millions in campaign cash. Hes also teamed with Democrats in Washington and around the country on two key issues that have become cornerstones of his presidential campaign: gun control and climate change.
Walk up to a random Democrat on the Hill and almost all of them have some kind of connection to Bloomberg. As a state legislator, freshman Rep. Madeleine DeanMadeleine DeanDemocrats blast consumer bureau over student loan oversight agreement with DeVosDemocratic congresswomen wear white to Trump’s address in honor of suffrage movement The Hill’s Morning Report Sponsored by AdvaMed House panel delays impeachment vote until FridayMORE (D-Pa.) said she partnered with Bloomberg on a gun-violence prevention event at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Gun violence is something Ive been working on my entire adult life, said Dean, who has not endorsed any of the 2020 candidates.
Neither has Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelPelosi trashes Trump address: ‘He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech’Democratic congresswomen wear white to Trump’s address in honor of suffrage movement Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingersMORE (D-Fla.), but she said she worked closely with Bloomberg on his Mayors Against Illegal Guns initiative when she was mayor of Palm Beach.
I was a mayor, so that appeals to me. He’s competent, hes smart obviously, and he has the money, Frankel, co-chair of the Womens Caucus, told The Hill.
I like a lot of the people in the race. I still have a soft spot in my heart to have a woman president.” But she added: “He helped us win the House, and he really has been a leader on the gun violence issue.
Bloomberg has also worked closely with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump says what he learned from impeachment is that ‘Democrats are crooked’Bull meets china shop: Roger Stone controversy follows a familiar patternHouse to vote Thursday on removing ERA ratification deadlineMORE (D-Calif.) on both gun violence prevention and climate change. At a global climate conference in her hometown of San Francisco in 2018, Pelosi praised Bloomberg for his Beyond Coal initiative with the Sierra Club, calling it essential.
As the highest-ranking Democrat in Congress, Pelosi has steered clear of taking sides in the primary contest. But when pressed about the nearly $300 million that Bloomberg has spent in the race, Pelosi didnt hesitate to praise the former mayor.
As far as Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergFormer HUD secretary criticizes Bloomberg on housing policyCNN announces Democratic town halls in Nevada Where 2020 candidates stand in Super Tuesday pollsMORE is concerned, she told reporters in the Capitol, I think that his involvement in this campaign will be a positive one.”
Bloomberg’s role in the 2018 campaign was, indeed, a positive one for Democrats and for Pelosi herself. A New York Times analysis found that Bloomberg spent more than $41 million boosting Democrats in 24 House races last cycle; Democrats won 21 of those races.
More than $400,000 of Bloomberg’s money was spent on TV ads in Oklahoma City backing Democratic candidate Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornTrump goes all in for NASA’s Artemis return to the moon programHouse panel proposes NASA bill that would scrap the lunar base or maybe notThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week MORE. She defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Steve RussellSteven (Steve) Dane RussellThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for HouseOklahoma New Members 2019MORE by just 3,288 votes.
In the midterm elections, Democrats flipped the GOP-controlled House for the first time in eight years, and Pelosi soon reclaimed her Speakers gavel.
She partly owes her gavel to Mayor Bloomberg and his spending last cycle, said a senior House Democratic source.
Bloomberg is running a highly unusual campaign, choosing to sit out the first four nominating states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Instead, the billionaire self-funded candidate is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Super Tuesday states including California, Texas and Virginia by blitzing voters with endless TV and social media ads and building a massive field organization.
During a recent closed-door Democratic caucus meeting, one lawmaker from a Super Tuesday state stood up and lamented that Bloomberg had hired away two of the lawmakers district staffers, probably by paying them more, according to a source in the room.
Sanders supporters have been extremely critical of Bloomberg’s spending, even though hes pledged to help whoever becomes the partys nominee.
I dont think our democracy should be for sale to anybody, said Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse panel advances bipartisan surprise billing legislation despite divisions Key House Democrat says Perez must go: ‘He doesn’t lead on anything’Pramila Jayapal endorses Democrat Henry Cuellar’s primary challengerMORE (D-Wash.), a Sanders backer who is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This isnt about who I like or dont like. I just dont think anybody should be able to be a billionaire and spend enormous amounts of money promoting themselves; I dont see how thats a democracy.
But other Democrats argue that Bloomberg is playing within the rules and that his spending will almost certainly free up other like-minded donors to focus on efforts to take back the Senate and preserve the House majority.
Hes in a very good position, said freshman Rep. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsVulnerable Democrats fret over surging SandersDemocrats tear into Trump’s speech: It was a ‘MAGA rally’Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingersMORE (D-Minn.), who is backing his home-state senator, Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden assures supporters the primary is still ‘wide open’ in lengthy phone call: report Limbaugh on Buttigieg: ‘America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage’CNN announces Democratic town halls in Nevada MORE, but is also bullish on Bloomberg. I dont want to see our country perpetuate a system where you either have to raise hundreds of millions or an individual has to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. Its not healthy for us.”
But considering the alternative right now in the White House, Phillips added, Im glad there is somebody who wont have to think about raising resources to win.