Presidential Politics In Lexington

Presidential Politics In Lexington

DIANA TAYLOR, domestic partner of presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chats with Lexington Mayor Frank Friedman during a campaign stop in Lexington last week.

Presidential Politics In Lexington

At one time there were 27 candidates running for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. With the primary season officially underway, the field has been winnowed to 11, a number that includes the late addition of one who’s considered a viable candidate – former New York City Mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg campaign came to Lexington last week with a visit to the Rockbridge area Democratic headquarters by Diana Taylor, the candidate’s longtime domestic partner. Taylor was greeted warmly by a few dozen Democrats who crowded into the local party’s office space at 11 S. Jefferson St.

While not everyone in attendance was a Bloomberg supporter, all who were there appeared to share something in common – a strong desire to turn Trump out of office. Taylor said she believes Bloomberg is the candidate with the best chance of beating Trump but added that the founder, CEO and owner of Bloomberg L.P. has vowed to support whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

The day after Trump was elected president, Taylor recalled, Bloomberg reached out to his fellow New Yorker by calling to congratulate him and suggest he follow a policy that had served Bloomberg well when he was mayor. Select people to serve in the administration, Bloomberg advised Trump, “who are smarter than you.” The president-elect’s predictable response, finished for Taylor by a member of the audience, was “Nobody’s smarter than me.”

Taylor was asked about an issue that’s been dogging Bloomberg – the New York City Police Department’s policy of “stop and frisk” during his time as mayor that was seen by many as unfairly targeting young men of color. Taylor said one of the first things Bloomberg did when he announced his candidacy in November was to admit that he had been wrong to support such a policy and apologize for it.

She went on to say that Bloomberg is being pro-active in reaching out to African Americans and addressing issues that are important to them. She said he’s been supportive of programs such as “My Brother’s Keeper” that empower minorities through education and mentorship opportunities.

Issues that are at the forefront of the Bloomberg campaign, according to Taylor, are the environment, jobs, education and health care. “He’s dedicated his life to improving all of these,” she said. “He’s invested in these issues and has had great results.” During this time as mayor, from 2002 to 2013, she said, the number of people who didn’t have health insurance was cut in half and teacher salaries were raised by 43 percent.

Given how late he entered the race, Taylor was asked, what is Bloomberg’s path to the nomination? He’s bypassing the first four primary/caucus contests, when only 4 percent of delegates are being selected, she said, and concentrating instead on Super Tuesday on March 3, when primaries will be held in 14 states, including Virginia, in which 36 percent of delegates will be allotted.

She pointed out that he’s already climbing in the polls. This has been possible, she acknowledged, by the huge amount of money he’s had at his disposal, but emphasized that the vast political apparatus he’s investing in will be available to whoever the eventual Democratic nominee turns out to be.

Predicting who that nominee is – an exercise that will be played out next week at the Washington and Lee University Mock Presidential Convention – looks to be a formidable task at this point. Top-tier candidates who appear to have a realistic chance of winning the nomination include former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and, yes, Bloomberg.

W&L’s prognosticators have their work cut out for them. Our guess is that their mock choice, with the exhaustive research that goes into it, will be a more reliable indicator of the ultimate nominee than the selections by a miniscule portion of the electorate who participated in Iowa’s caucuses on Monday or cast votes in New Hampshire next week.

The News-Gazette

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