Bloomberg says he will spend $100 million in Florida to help Biden

  • Rebecca R Ruiz, The New York Times
    Published: 2020-09-14 18:55:11 BdST

Michael Bloomberg, then Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign rally in San Antonio, Texas, Mar 1, 2020. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and presidential candidate, announced Sunday that he planned to spend $100 million in Florida in the coming weeks to support Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy.

The pledge came as new polls showed a particularly tight race between Biden and President Donald Trump in Florida, a key battleground state that carries 29 electoral votes.

The announcement also followed criticism from within the Democratic Party — despite a huge $18 million transfer to the Democratic National Committee this spring — that Bloomberg had not delivered on his promise to put the full weight of his fortune behind the general-election effort to defeat Trump.

The commitment in Florida, while enormous for a one-state programme, represents a significant pullback from the promises made by some Bloomberg advisers during primary season. Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, told Democrats that if Bloomberg were not the nominee, he would form a new super PAC and mount an enormous effort against Trump in the country’s biggest swing states.

But after his candidacy ended, Bloomberg scrapped the idea of starting a new anti-Trump group. Throughout the summer, Democratic groups that approached Bloomberg were told by his aides that the former mayor had not yet approved any spending in the presidential race.

Allies and advisers to Bloomberg, who has also faced lawsuits from former campaign workers claiming he misled them, suggested that he had been assessing the landscape and waiting to deploy potential future donations until they might be most effective. Voting begins in Florida with the distribution of absentee ballots on Sept 24.

The new $100 million commitment in Florida will be routed through one of Bloomberg’s super PACs, Independence USA, as well as other Democratic groups, according to a spokeswoman. The effort is expected to emphasise communications with Hispanic voters, the spokeswoman said.

In a statement issued Sunday, Sheekey said Bloomberg’s latest commitments “will mean Democrats and the Biden campaign can invest even more heavily in other key states like Pennsylvania, which will be critical to a Biden victory.”

Bloomberg’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention last month reignited criticism from some in the party that he had not given directly to Biden’s campaign after spending nearly $1 billion on his own bid for the nomination. Since dropping out of the race, he has also committed tens of millions of dollars to supporting House Democrats.

In response to the news of his latest pledge Sunday, Trump ridiculed Bloomberg on Twitter, calling his participation in the Democratic primary debates “the most inept debate performance in the history of presidential politics.”

“Save NYC instead,” the president wrote.

© 2020 New York Times News Service