Mike Bloomberg continues to collect endorsements and accolades from key figures in the DNC, despite disastrous debate performances and accusations that he’s totally out of step with the liberal wing of his party’s base. His latest move is yet another that isn’t drawing much media attention but probably should. This week, Bloomberg named former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as a national co-chair for his presidential campaign. He also picked up her formal endorsement for his candidacy. In the announcement, they both felt the need to point out their long history of partnership and the many values they share in common. (WBAL Baltimore)
“Mike has been a good friend and mentor to me for many years. He is a no-nonsense leader who has taken on the country’s toughest fights,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “When we were both in office, we worked together to get illegal guns off the streets of Baltimore, New York, and cities across America. He continues to lead the national movement for gun safety, building grassroots support and working to elect candidates fighting for common-sense gun safety laws.”
Rawlings-Blake joins several other former mayors as political co-chairs of Bloomberg’s campaign, including Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter, Miami’s Manny Diaz and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa. Rawlings-Blake will advise the campaign and serve as a national surrogate for Bloomberg.
Something about this announcement struck me as being a bit tone-deaf. Of all the issues on the Democratic platform, why did they decide to highlight their mutual work in reducing gun violence? He’s talking about the former mayor of Baltimore, a city with a murder rate that rivals sever hot spots in literal war zones.
At any rate, let’s take a moment to see why this appointment and endorsement matters. At a glance, you might see Rawlings-Blake a something of a non-entity in Democratic politics. She served a bit more than one term as Mayor of Charm City, having taken over when her predecessor was convicted of embezzlement. (The woman who replaced her was similarly driven out of office over corruption charges.) She oversaw the aftermath of the Freddie Gray riots where her city was both literally and figuratively going up in flames. While she wasn’t forced to resign, she did opt to not bother trying for a second term and exited the scene.
But for some reason, the Democratic Party was still busy trying to make her into a “rising star” and find someplace to put her. That’s how she was somehow named the president of the US Conference of Mayors (even while her city was burning down) and made a deputy-chair of the DNC. She was also enjoying some hefty donations from Bloomberg even back then.
So here’s the other factoid about Rawlings-Blake that should grab your attention. She was a Democratic superdelegate for the 2016 convention and she will be one again this year. If you look down the list of mayors, former mayors and other party officials who have endorsed Bloomberg this year, you note that many of them have these same things in common. They were previous recipients of generous donations from Mike and they are superdelegates.
Don’t lose sight of that as this entire passion play unfolds. Mike Bloomberg doesn’t have to beat Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden or anyone else in the delegate race. He just has to stop them from getting to 50% plus one on the first ballot at the convention. And then the superdelegates will get to jump in for the second vote. Bloomberg is playing the long game here and it’s still entirely possible that it could work.