Bloomberg opens campaign office in Ann Arbor

Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 3:48pm

State Director Michael Kurtz speaks at presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg's Ann Arbor office opening Saturday afternoon.

State Director Michael Kurtz speaks at presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg's Ann Arbor office opening Saturday afternoon. Buy this photo
Penny Lam/Daily

 

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s campaign opened an office in Ann Arbor this weekend, bringing together students and community members to support his candidacy and hear from Dhani Jones, former University of Michigan three-time All-Big Ten linebacker, and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.

About 100 people dressed in campaign shirts, pins and various accessories gathered into 217 S. Fourth Ave. on Saturday to support Bloomberg, a billionaire and former New York City mayor. 

The event started with remarks from Michael Kurtz, Bloomberg’s state director, who spoke about the campaign’s efforts to organize throughout the state, including here in Ann Arbor. 

“What we’re doing in this state is we are organizing it every corner, we’re not going to concede one inch to Donald Trump,” Kurtz said. “We are building momentum. You see the turnout today. We are building this campaign and there is real momentum on the ground.”

Kurtz then introduced Dingell to the crowd. Though Dingell has not endorsed Bloomberg, she spoke about their friendship and the Democratic Party’s goal of defeating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

“I know every one of the presidential candidates,” Dingell said. “I’ve known Mike for a long time, so I’m staying neutral and I’m going to support who the people of the 12th District support because we got to come together. We cannot not come together because if we don’t, we have four more years and what it’ll do to our democracy, I don’t know.”

Following Dingell, Jones spoke to the crowd. He voiced his support of Bloomberg and of the campaign’s priorities. 

“I'll tell you this, what I’ve learned over my 10 years of playing in the NFL is learning how to pick a great team, so welcome to Team Bloomberg,” Jones said. “This is why I believe in Mike, number one, he’s a great leader. He’s a motivator, and he’s a unifier. He never lets anything get in the way of success, things are practical. He’s got a practical way about him in order to achieve his ultimate goal and that’s to bring everybody together.”

The event closed with remarks from Erika Bolton, Bloomberg’s regional organizing director. Bolton expressed the importance of getting out and volunteering for a political campaign ahead of the 2020 election. 

“I ask that you would continue to support, continue to be involved, continue to lend your voice to making sure that change happens because it takes each and every one of us,” Bolton said. “Even your neighbors and your friends that say they’re not political — because they are this year.”

Max Brill, Business sophomore and campaign volunteer for Bloomberg, told The Daily he supports Bloomberg’s campaign because of his track record and electability.

“I grew up in New York, so (I) remember (Bloomberg) was the mayor there for 12 years,” Brill said. “I’m familiar with him in that sense and I’ve always wanted him to run for president. At the end of the day, it is about putting forward a Democratic nominee who everybody can get behind.”

Bloomberg also opened offices in Flint, Bloomfield Hills and Warren over the weekend; more Michigan offices will open soon

After entering the race in November, months after the other candidates announced they were joining the race, Bloomberg turned his attention to states with later primaries, such as Michigan. He is skipping the first four state primaries of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. 

Michigan is often key to winning a presidential election; former President Barack Obama won Michigan’s 16 electoral votes in 2008 and 2012 and Trump won them in 2016. 

In a nationwide survey of 600 people conducted in January, Bloomberg performed better than the other Democratic candidates in a theoretical head-to-head election against Trump and had lower unfavorable ratings than Biden and Sanders. However, he received lower favorable ratings than the Democratic frontrunners, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. 

At a rally in Detroit last week, about 400 people attended to hear Bloomberg speak. He hired 60 campaign organizers in Michigan and spent $7.6 million on television-based advertisements. Many other campaigns are focusing on early primary states and have yet to begin seriously campaigning in Michigan. 

Bloomberg has received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Inkster Mayor Byron Nolen, former Adrian Mayor Jim Berryman, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and former Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. 

Charly Norton, Bloomberg’s communication director for the state of Michigan, spoke to The Daily about the importance of generating a strong campaign presence in Ann Arbor and across the state. 

“To my knowledge, we’re the only campaign with an office here in Ann Arbor and we’re absolutely prioritizing every community across the state,” Norton said. “We’re obviously going to be very visible because we don’t want any community to feel like they’re being taken for granted and we want them to feel a part of this campaign. We want to unite Michigan, we want to unite the country and rebuild after this time of division and chaos that has ensued at the hands of Donald Trump.”

Daily staff reporters Julia Forrest and Emma Ruberg can be reached at juforres@umich.edu and eruberg@umich.edu