FARGO — The baggage is piling up for Mike Bloomberg at Trump-like speed, putting into question whether the billionaire Democratic presidential candidate really has a shot at the party's nomination. Democrats, unlike Republicans, care whether their candidates did or said things in the past that are seen as racist.
With his stop-and-frisk past as New York City's mayor catching up to him, who knows how long Bloomberg's surge in the national polls will continue? He's hoping it continues to Super Tuesday, Mar. 3, when a mountain of delegates are up for grabs in 14 states, including Minnesota.
Whatever the case, we'll be seeing a heavy Bloomberg presence around these parts.
The campaign opened a field office in downtown Fargo recently, at 630 1st Ave. N. between Wurst Bier Hall and Drumconrath Brewing Co. Whether it moves the needle for Bloomberg in North Dakota and Minnesota's 7th Congressional District, the areas for which it's responsible, will be worth watching.
Know this: Whatever you think of Bloomberg and however successful he might be, it is going to be an impressive operation.
It's all about the money and the organization. Bloomberg's campaign has both.
The office itself is massive, a prime building in a prime location on a busy street. It's a heckuva building Bloomberg's people in New York rented for the locals, a massive space big enough for a game of catch with a baseball or a wicked floor hockey contest.
It's probably too big, considering when I stopped into the office one day last week there were exactly three people in the building. A receptionist just inside the door greeted me and way, way, way in the back was two guys sitting in two glass-fronted offices.
They were Paul Schwarz and Nick Schmit, a couple of veteran Democratic campaign workers recently hired to get things cooking for Bloomberg in western Minnesota (Schwarz) and North Dakota (Schmit). Both declined comment when I popped into their offices looking for information on Bloomberg's local activity, instead deferring to a campaign higher-up in the Twin Cities. The only information they'd offer for print was their job is to get organized, hire a few staffers and gather volunteers. They weren't being secretive, just following the organizational chart.
These prying eyes did see new iPhones and MacBook Pros on Schmit's and Schwarz's desks, incentives given by the Bloomberg campaign to attract top-talent staffers. It's been reported here and elsewhere that Bloomberg is paying senior advisers and state directors $15,000-$18,000 a month, an enormous sum for campaign employees.
The massive and expensive office. The perks. The salaries. Bloomberg is running a very well-resourced, well-staffed, well-organized operation. And this is in the hinterlands, where most presidential candidates of either party don't burn a lot of cash or attention.
If Bloomberg's self-funded campaign is willing to spend this amount of money here, other Democrats would be wise to not dismiss him. With an estimated $55 billion fortune to dip into, the well is bottomless.
Like him or not, Bloomberg will be a player — even around here and even with all that baggage.