NYT: Bloomberg dumps millions of dollars into Texas, Ohio for last-minute campaign ads

NYT: Bloomberg dumps millions of dollars into Texas, Ohio for last-minute campaign ads

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg promised to campaign against President Trump all the way to November whether he won the Democrat nomination or not. He continues to make good on that promise. Just hours after he dropped out of the Democrat primary due to his dismal performance, he was back in the race in a different role as a financier to buy the election for Democrats.

Bloomberg ponied up $100 million to win Florida for Joe Biden with campaign ad buys through his PAC in September. Just a week out from the November election, as tens of millions of voters have already turned in their ballots, Bloomberg’s PAC has committed millions of dollars for ad buys in Texas and Ohio. Does Team Bloomberg see an opening or is it a last-minute panic setting in?

Bloomberg’s Super PAC, Independence USA, has plans to air “intensive” ad campaigns in all television markets in both states. It is hard to imagine that there is very much available ad time to buy at this point in the campaign, yet here we are. Bloomberg is expected to spend $15 million on this effort to swing Texas and Ohio for Biden. The visit scheduled for Kamala on Friday in Texas is mentioned as proof of last-minute attention to Texas by the campaign.

Mr. Biden’s campaign has treated Ohio as a competitive battleground for some time, even though Mr. Trump carried it by a wide margin in 2016, and more recently, the Democratic ticket has been putting some time and money into Texas. Senator Kamala Harris of California, Mr. Biden’s running mate, is planning to visit the state on Friday.

The Bloomberg team conducted polling in a number of states over the weekend and came away convinced that Texas and Ohio represented its best targets — narrowly divided electoral prizes where the war for television airtime is not already cluttered with heavy advertising on either side. The team presented Mr. Bloomberg with the numbers on Monday morning and he gave the go-ahead.

“We believe that Florida will go down to the wire, and we were looking for additional opportunities to expand the map,” Mr. Wolfson said. “Texas and Ohio present the best opportunities to do that, in our view.”

Mr. Bloomberg is also planning to increase the size of his television ad buys in Florida over the next week, Mr. Wolfson said.

There is a combined total of 56 Electoral College votes at stake in Texas and Ohio. The Electoral College votes from the largest red states are crucial for a Trump win in November. It is true that both races are tighter than normally seen in Texas and Ohio but there is still the expectation that Trump will win the Lone Star state, as well as Ohio. Frankly, it also looks like Trump will win Florida. It looks like this is a last-ditch attempt by Team Bloomberg to make a difference. I do wonder how accurate whatever their own polling shows, though. If Team Bloomberg doesn’t think there is an overload on campaign ads in Texas, for example, there are a lot of us who would disagree with that. I notice more Biden ads than Trump ads which also points to the fact that Biden’s campaign is flush with money while Team Trump has trimmed its advertising budget.

Team Biden doesn’t really expect to win Texas but what they are doing by concentrating on Texas is continuing to lay the groundwork for future elections. Texas Democrats have been ramping up their efforts to turn Texas back to a blue state since 2013 and each election cycle gets more intense. Beto O’Rourke really swayed Democrats into believing he could lead them to victory and he did give Ted Cruz a real run for the senate seat in 2018. Enthusiasm has only intensified and the strong hatred of Trump is real in Texas. Democrats are desperate to vote him out. Since losing to Cruz, Beto has concentrated his efforts on statewide elections and flipping the Texas state legislature.

Bloomberg is also tossing millions into a statewide race in Texas – the Texas Railroad Commission’s Democrat candidate will reap the benefit of $2.6 million from his PAC for last-minute campaign ads. Chrysta Castañeda is running against Republican Jim Wright who defeated the incumbent Republican in the primary race. Castaneda will be the first Democrat to hold the position in 25 years if she wins the race, which I am doubtful she will. Texas Republicans have held all of the statewide offices since 1998.

A quick explanation: The Texas Railroad Commission doesn’t regulate railroads, despite its name. It is the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry, and surface coal and uranium mining. It ceased regulating railroads in 2005. It is the oldest regulatory agency in the state and one of the oldest of its kind in the nation.

Castaneda is a climate change alarmist on the level that Bloomberg is and one campaign ad that plays in Houston is particularly noticeable for its claim about flaring. In a 30 second ad, she states that “oil companies flare enough natural gas to power the City of Houston.” That’s malarkey, election-year hyperbole, and meant to scare voters by environmental extremists. Flaring is a process used primarily in the production of crude oil in which excess natural gas produced with the oil is burned off at the wellhead, rather than released into the atmosphere. The Railroad Commission, however, has a limited role in flaring. From its website:

Rule 32 authorizes the flaring of gas while drilling a well and for up to 10 days after a well’s completion for operators to conduct well potential testing. Outside of that time period, the Commission requires operators to obtain an exception to Rule 32 authorizing flaring for specific situations and circumstances. Our trained staff works closely with operators to ensure compliance with Commission rules. RRC District Offices have inspectors available to witness operations, conduct inspections, provide information about permitting requirements, and ensure compliance with permits issued by the Commission.

Castaneda is a Dallas engineer and lawyer. Wright is an oil and gas businessman from Orange Grove. The Railroad Commission is comprised of three members, all Republicans. Democrats think they have a shot since the Republican incumbent was defeated in the primary race.

“I’m glad to support Chrysta in her campaign to be the next railroad commissioner because she has the vision and experience needed to build a safer, healthier and more environmentally prosperous future for the state of Texas,” Bloomberg said in a Monday release from Castañeda’s campaign.

Team Biden has some clean-up work to do in Texas, though, after his announcement that he’ll “transition” the oil and gas industry if he becomes president. Wright released a statement about Bloomberg’s last-minute entry into the race.

“Texas is not for sale to radical environmentalists and billionaires from New York and California who want to endanger our country’s economy and move energy production overseas,” Wright said in a statement Monday. “Make no mistake: We are in a war for the future of Texas, and the battleground is the Texas Railroad Commission. Texans know the value of having a strong oil and gas economy that helps provide millions of jobs for Texas citizens.”

We’ll see if Bloomberg’s money in Texas and Ohio move the needle toward Biden and Castaneda. All of his money couldn’t buy success for his own presidential ambitions. We’ll know in seven days, give or take, depending on how long the counting of presidential race ballots takes.

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