2020 democratic presidential candidate and former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg opened a campaign headquarters in Knoxville on Friday night.
His new headquarters is located at 1601 Western Avenue. Amid lots of UT-themed and Knoxville-centered decorations and a lively crowd, Bloomberg gave a short, humorous speech with concrete policy stances mixed in, ending with thunderous applauses from a crowd of his supporters.
Before the opening of his new headquarters, Bloomberg had coffee with newly-elected Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon.
He discussed the meeting briefly and positively, “You know, cities this size are the same as New York City. Everybody has similar problems — the scale may be different — everybody wants something, no one wants to pay for it, nobody ever says thank you to the mayor,” Bloomberg said.
He went on to clarify that he was just joking as the crowd erupted with laughter, discussing how much he loved being mayor and what a great job he thinks it is.
LaKenya Middlebrook, Chair of the Knox County Democratic Party, also spoke on Friday evening. She discussed her excitement to welcome Bloomberg to Knoxville but also warned the crowd that electing a democratic president was not going to solve all of America’s problems.
“I am excited to see this level of energy and excitement around a presidential race, but we know that replacing Donald Trump is not going to fix all of our problems,” Middlebrook said. “It’s a really big start; it’s a super important start, and we’re going to do it. But we also need to be prepared to elect senators, to elect house members, to change state houses, to change our county government, right?”
Also speaking before Bloomberg was Ashford Hughes, the Bloomberg State Political Director for Tennessee. Hughes discussed his history in Knoxville, having been born and raised here, and how important it was to him that Bloomberg was visiting the scruffy city.
Bloomberg entered the 2020 primary race fairly late, officially announcing the launch of his campaign back in November, months after most of the current front runners announced.
Several candidates have had choice words for Bloomberg’s decision to enter the race.
“I have admiration for the work that he’s done, but I don’t buy this argument that you get in because you say, ‘Oh everyone else sucks.’ I just don’t,” Democratic Senator from Minnesota and 2020 candidate Amy Klobuchar said on Meet the Press.
Bloomberg has not met the qualifications to be on the ballot in some early primary states like Iowa. So, many suspect that he is focusing on states which will have their primaries on Super Tuesday.
Super Tuesday, taking place this year on March 3rd, is a day in which one-third of the U.S. population is expected to vote. 14 states are expected to hold their primaries on that day, including California and Texas, the two most populous states in the Union.
Tennessee is also expected to hold a primary on that day, which is why many are speculating Bloomberg is focusing so hard on the Volunteer State.