Bloomberg to Campaign in Arizona as Other Democrats Focus on Earlier Primaries

Two days before the Iowa caucuses, Michael Bloomberg is going to Colorado and Arizona.
Two days before the Iowa caucuses, Michael Bloomberg is going to Colorado and Arizona. Gage Skidmore
While most Democratic presidential candidates are spending time in the four states with the earliest primaries, Michael Bloomberg is courting the Arizona vote.

The former New York City mayor and presidential hopeful announced on Wednesday he'll head to Phoenix this weekend for his second campaign visit, just two days before Monday's Iowa caucuses.

He will be hosting an organizing event at his downtown Phoenix office on Saturday evening, with doors opening to the public at 5 p.m., the campaign said.

Because Bloomberg announced his candidacy late, in November 2019, he's purposely taking a different approach than his opponents, according to Joe Wolf, his senior adviser for Arizona.

"He knew he wasn't going to win the first few," Wolf said. "That's what happens when you get in this late. He's no dummy. He knew that. We're investing in states that other campaigns are not, that have more delegates."

The four states with the earliest votes — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina — all have primaries and caucuses in February. Then, on March 3, on what's known as Super Tuesday, 14 more states will cast primary votes.

Arizona's March 17 presidential preference election comes later than all of those — but it will determine who 67 of the state's delegates will support at the national convention later this year.

Bloomberg seems to have resigned himself to losing the first four states. He's set his sights farther out, to Super Tuesday and beyond. That strategy is wildly unusual and unproven — successful nominees typically start with small-state early victories and work their way up from there.

But Wolf said because Arizona voters will start filling out mail-in ballots in mid-February, the state behaves somewhat like a Super Tuesday state, and therefore is still a major campaign target for Bloomberg.

"Arizona is an important piece for our path forward to win the nomination," Wolf said. "This is the campaign we have to run to be successful."

The billionaire candidate's financial investments show that. Bloomberg has a larger footprint in Arizona than any other Democrat — he's hired more than 50 paid staffers and plans to establish six field offices statewide. And last fall, Arizona was one of four states the candidate chose for $100 million worth of TV ads.

Bloomberg also came to Phoenix on a campaign stop just over two months ago, in November, to file paperwork for the state's presidential preference election.

Ahead of his Phoenix appearance on Saturday, Bloomberg will be in Denver for another campaign event.

Though Bloomberg has funneled millions into campaign advertising across the country, the moderate Democrat candidate doesn't appear to be a front-runner. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has also established a campaign presence in Arizona, have him beat in recent national polls.
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Ali Swenson was an editorial fellow for Phoenix New Times starting in 2019.