Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg set up his first Brooklyn presidential campaign office in Boerum Hill Monday, where his Kings County staffers are accelerating his long-shot campaign to convince Brooklynites to vote for their former mayor to lead the country, according to the head of the local field operations.
“Most people are pretty familiar with Bloomberg as mayor, it’s just reactivating them as registered Democrats and focusing on people across the political spectrum,” said Andrew Holt.
The new field office on 535 Atlantic Ave., between Third and Fourth avenues, is one of a handful of outposts Bloomberg’s campaign has opened in recent weeks, including in Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens, where staffers and volunteers have started canvassing, phone banking, and organizing.
Bloomberg’s campaign plans to expand its efforts throughout the borough in the coming months, and they are already canvassing as far south as Bay Ridge, according to Holt.
“Yes there will be more Brooklyn offices,” he said. “Definitely geographical diversity, making sure we’re covering a broad cross-section across the borough.”
The office will celebrate it’s “official opening” in the coming weeks, according to New York regional spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign Jennifer Blatus.
By the end of December, Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire, had poured more than $200 million of his own money into his campaign — far outspending his competitors — with $132 million going to television advertising, $1.5 million for office space, and $700,000 for rental apartments for campaign staff, January filings reported in the Times show.
And despite abstaining from the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary — and the New York Democratic primary not being until April 28 — Bloomberg’s massive cash investment has paid off, with a recent Quinnipiac poll putting him at third place nationally, behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, and Holt claimed that the businessman will be able to beat President Donald Trump in the general election because of his broad appeal to voters across the political spectrum.
“Bloomberg hands down is the best to beat Donald Trump,” Holt said. “His track record in New York City, I think we’ll continue to remind New Yorkers about it and educate new voters.”
But one of Bloomberg’s most controversial policies — stop-and-frisk, which disproportionately affected people of color — came back to bite him after a 2015 audio clip emerged on social media where the former mayor defended the policy, saying most criminals were young minority men.
“95% of your murders and murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description and Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25,” said Bloomberg in the clip posted on Twitter by podcaster Benjamin Dixon Monday.
Audio of @MikeBloomberg’s 2015 @AspenInstitute speech where he explains that “you can just Xerox (copy)” the description of male, minorities 16-25 and hand to cops.
Bloomberg had video of speech blocked.
Perhaps because of the problematic explanation he gives for #StopAndFrisk pic.twitter.com/Fm0YCi4ZRy
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 10, 2020
Under stop-and-frisk, police temporarily detained, questioned, and searched civilians on the street for weapons and other illegal goods. The policy overwhelmingly affected young black and Latino men, and Mayor Bill de Blasio reduced the practice after becoming mayor in 2014, although stop-and-frisk incidents spiked by 22 percent in 2019 — the highest number since 2015, the Post reported.
Holt did not immediately respond to a follow up about the stop-and-frisk comments, but Bloomberg’s campaign press officer reached out with a statement, in which the candidate stated that he inherited the controversial policing practice, while admitting it was “overused” and that he should have curtailed its use sooner.
“I inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused,” the statement read. “By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95 percent, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized — and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities.”
Bloomberg apologized for the policy at a black East New York megachurch back in November, but earned criticism from local politicos for waiting until the eve of his campaign launch to issue the mea culpa.
“Forgive many of us for questioning apologies a decade late and on the eve of a presidential run,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at the time. “It is not nearly enough to erase the legacy of the systemic abuses of stop, question, and frisk on the people whose lives were harmed by over-policing, nor the communities criminalized by it.”