Former New York mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg visited Texas this weekend to bolster his campaign efforts — and those of Democrats generally — in the state.
His second campaign trip to Texas featured a day of canvassing with Dr. Eliz Markowitz, the Fort Bend Democrat vying for a Republican-held Texas House seat in an upcoming January special election, as well as other public events, like attending a church service with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Bloomberg has spent more than $680,000 in Texas alone on Facebook during the first three weeks in December, walloping the next biggest spender on the social network, Donald Trump, who spent $250,000 during the same period, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive.
In the ads, Bloomberg is not only touting his candidacy but making the case against Trump.
“Bloomberg’s aides believe it is imperative to flood voters with attacks on the president before it is too late — a lesson Republicans learned in 2016 when they initially spent most of their ad budgets during the primaries tearing into each other while ignoring Mr. Trump,” the New York Times reported on Sunday.
In 2016, candidate Trump relied more heavily on digital ad spending than Hillary Clinton to generate his campaign’s fundraising, a key factor that some point to as a reason for his Oval Office win.
The billionaire New Yorker’s visit to the Lone Star State comes amid a hiring spree by his campaign, including Carla Brailey, vice-chair of the Texas Democratic Party, to serve as a senior adviser, and Ashlea Turner, a consultant for Bill White’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, as his state director. Bloomberg, who skipping the early primary states to instead focus on delegate-rich states like Texas, plans to open a headquarters in Houston, with at least 15 other field offices throughout the state.
“Texas is a pivotal state for us in the primary, but also for Democrats in the general election,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said. “We intend to run an aggressive campaign that will engage voters in an early effort to remove President Trump from office. We are launching a robust voter registration program and have already started advertising across the state.”
No other Democratic presidential candidate has the financial means to make such a major play in Texas. State-specific polls show Trump continues to face trouble in the Lone Star State, with head-to-head matchups showing him tied with Joe Biden and not far ahead of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who believes he can win Texas.
In recent days, The Intercept first reported the Bloomberg campaign used an outside contractor who recruited prison workers to make phone calls on behalf of his campaign. After learning about the shady practice from a reporter, the campaign terminated its relationship with the contractor.
Bloomberg launched his run for president with the most expensive television ad buy in political history, spending $35 million on air time, including $3 million in Texas. Already, Bloomberg’s first month of campaigning has seen $18 million spent on Facebook and Google ads nationally, according to digital messaging firm Acronym.