Texas big: Houston's mayor endorses Bloomberg, "Mike for Black America"

Michael Bloomberg’s campaign announced a notable endorsement in Texas on Thursday – that of Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner. The battle for African-American voters in Texas is on.


Mayor Turner, an African-American Democrat and thirty-year political career politician will provide a boost to the Bloomberg campaign in the all-important black vote in the Democrat primary. Early voting in Texas begins in just five days. Texas is one of the states that vote on Super Tuesday. 228 pledged delegates in Texas are up for grabs in the primary.

Turner points to Bloomberg’s experience as Mayor of New York City as a plus for running the country. He has supported Bloomberg’s gun-grabbing organization, Every Town for Gun Safety, including participating in public marches for the cause. Like Bloomberg, Turner is a Never-Trumper. Turner also participates in Women’s Marches in Houston. So, his connection to Bloomberg isn’t new. Without a black contender in the primary race, it’s reasonable that Turner chose Bloomberg.


Most affected here will be Joe Biden. Biden has polled in first place in Texas polls since he entered the race. While he had a very strong lead in past months, his lead has shrunk to 9 points as of today’s Real Clear Politics averaging. Granted, there hasn’t been a lot of polling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his lead is even less than that after his dismal showing in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. I think Bloomberg will be a choice that Texas Democrats who are not a part of the Sanders’ wing of the party will be comfortable making. Bloomberg was in fourth place at RCP after the last polling at the end of January. Warren was in third place after Biden and Sanders but Bloomberg should be able to do better than her after her poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire.

I can easily see a contest between Sanders and Bloomberg shaping up in Texas. Bloomberg is certainly giving it his best. His political ads continue to run 24/7 everywhere, whether it is network television or cable television. He’s all over social media. Bloomberg will be the keynote speaker at the annual Johnson, Rayburn Richards Dinner, a fundraiser dinner for the Harris County Democrat Party. After dinner, he will go to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum where he will launch the Mike for Black America. There is nothing subtle about Bloomberg’s campaign, that’s for sure.

The endorsement comes as Bloomberg is scheduled to be in Houston on Thursday night to launch a new initiative called Mike for Black America, which is supposed to help address issues important to the black community and boost voter turnout. Bloomberg is announcing that program just after 8 p.m. at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum at 3816 Caroline St.

It’s already Bloomberg’s third visit to Houston in the last six weeks. And in each of those visits, he’s been focused on the black community. In his last visit just two weeks ago, Bloomberg was promoting an economic program he plans to launch that he says will create one million more black homeowners and 100,000 new black-owned businesses.

“As mayor, Mike embraced New York’s diversity and made smart investments that brought better infrastructure and greater opportunity to all five boroughs,” Turner said.


Here’s the thing – lots of mayors and local legislators across the country are beholden to Michael Bloomberg for his past support – his financial donations to campaigns. Bloomberg has very cleverly set himself up through the years to now call in lots of favors from politicians for endorsements now as he runs for president. He has already announced the endorsements of San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Now Houston’s mayor adds his name to the list. Former Houston Mayor Bill White and former El Paso Mayor John Cook have also previously been announced as endorsers of Bloomberg.

Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city and a Democrat stronghold. Harris County though is America’s third most populous county. Harris County, once a solidly red county, has turned purple as the 2016 elections showed. It’s the suburban women voters who make the difference. They chose Hillary over Trump in 2016. It pains me greatly to say that. The saying is that as Harris County goes, so goes Texas. We’ll see how that shakes out this cycle.

With Joe Biden clearly not up to the task, Bloomberg is a natural back-up plan for moderate Democrats. Mayor Pete is too young and wet behind the ears in politics and Amy Klobuchar doesn’t have a compelling narrative or personality. Who else would moderates turn to but the successful New York billionaire willing to buy the presidency at any cost and punch back at Trump on Twitter and during interviews? We may very well end up with two New York billionaires in November – Trump, and Bloomberg.


All of that depends on the success of Bloomberg’s strategy of skipping the early states and banking on Super Tuesday. Bloomberg is working the South hard. His support among black voters jumped to 22 percent in the last Quinnipiac Poll. He is moving up. Will the “stop and frisk” controversy sway voters over the heft of Mayor Turner’s endorsement? That remains to be seen. Turner seems to have made peace with it.

Turner said he and Bloomberg have had conversations about the “stop-and-frisk” policy over the last few months — prior to the audio’s release. He added that Bloomberg and him went to breakfast together in January and that the presidential candidate “worshipped with him at his church,” but his endorsement “didn’t come easily.”

“It was important from the very beginning to get an acknowledgment that ‘stop and frisk’ was flawed and to get an apology for it. He acknowledged it was flawed policy to me and if he had not, I would not be standing with him,” Turner told The Texas Tribune. “If you’re willing to publicly indicate its wrong, the question now is: Where are we going from here?”

So far, the clip hasn’t stopped the billionaire from amassing support among black elected officials. Prior to Turner, three members of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Bloomberg.

As it turns out, Thursday is a big day for Democrat presidential candidates in Houston. Bernie Sanders’s campaign is scheduled to open a new office in Houston on Thursday night and Tom Steyer opened his first Texas office in Houston Thursday morning.


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David Strom 1:20 PM | July 18, 2024
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