Graham Kilmer

Mayor Bloomberg Comes to Town

Presidential candidate opens campaign office in Milwaukee and tours Public Market.

By - Dec 23rd, 2019 10:46 am
Ald. Robert Bauman and Michael Bloomberg. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Ald. Robert Bauman and Michael Bloomberg. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and current presidential hopeful, visited Milwaukee Saturday evening for the opening of a campaign field office.

This was the third and final office opening Bloomberg attended that day. He had already opened campaign offices at events in Philadelphia and Detroit that day for what he called his ‘whistle-stop campaign’. The Milwaukee campaign office is at 161 S. 1st Street.

Bloomberg used his time in Milwaukee for a photo-op at the Milwaukee Public Market and to deliver remarks at the opening of the office. He’s only announced his campaign four weeks ago, after announcing in March that he would not run for president. Bloomberg used his office opening to say that Trump is an “existential threat” to the country, and make his pitch as the man to beat him.

On his decision to open a campaign office in Wisconsin Saturday, he said, “Seriously, you don’t see a lot of Democratic candidates around here. And I thought that was a bad mistake back in 2016 and we’re not gonna make that mistake again.” Bloomberg went on, “Our campaign is going to make Wisconsin a top priority.”

His visit to Wisconsin included a stop at the Milwaukee Public Market, where he was guided around by local Ald. Bob Bauman. While there he made the perfunctory purchases of a bag of cheese curds and a six pack of beer. Reporters were on hand, carefully arranged by the campaign staffers; they were informed earlier that the cheese stand would be one of Bloomberg’s pre-determined stops. Wisconsin and cheese curds — you can’t go wrong. 

Bauman, ever the gracious host, greeted Bloomberg at the door. The downtown alderman told Urban Milwaukee that he was not there to endorse, but was invited by the campaign to show Bloomberg around the market for the photo op.

What did the billionaire and the local alderman talk about? Well, Bauman made sure to highlight some interesting aspects of his district, noting the traffic the public market draws. Bloomberg said something to Bauman about remembering that the Braves, once the Milwaukee Braves, used to play in Boston. (The team moved to Milwaukee in 1953 and 13 years later, in 1966, moved to Atlanta). Bloomberg would later repeat this line at the opening of his new campaign office, there it went like this: “Some people said ‘Well what’s your connection with Milwaukee?’ I grew up in Boston. And the Braves were there when I grew up. Enough said.”

When asked what he and Bloomberg talked about Bauman said, “The only matter of substantial national policy, we were in the cheese area and he said, ‘Oh yeah, Wisconsin, the Dairy State’ and I said, ‘Maybe not for long, trade policies are killing the dairy industry in Wisconsin.’ And he said, ‘Well there’s a lot of stuff being killed.’” Otherwise, Bauman gave him some history of the Third Ward and generally talked up his district and the city. At one point Bloomberg checked on the score of the Patriot’s game, Bauman said. Baseball, football, Mike Bloomberg clearly keeps track of sports.  

A few showed their support for Bloomberg. One man, Bill Sellars of Whitefish Bay, approached the gaggle of reporters and campaign handlers near the cheese curd stand. He walked up to Bloomberg and told him he supported him and that he thought the country would get behind him. “I wanted him to run the last time,” Sellars said. 

Others at the public market were jostled and crowded by the throng of media and campaign people leading Bloomberg through the shops. At one point, Bloomberg started to walk out of the door, thinking his team was leading him to the end of his visit to the market, only for other staffers to yell above the din of the crowd and bring him back on track. As this happened, a bit of a traffic jam was created near the entrance and patrons coming into the shop were confronted by a wall of news cameras and a crowd surrounding Bloomberg. One woman, pulling out her phone and taking video, asked her companions, “Are we supposed to know who this is?”

At the opening of the new headquarters, a few local politicians were spotted. Ald. and mayoral candidate Tony Zielinski, Glendale Mayor and candidate for County Executive Bryan Kennedy and County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez.

Ortiz-Velez said she was there to be open-minded, and also a possible delegate. She said she was excited by the possibility that Milwaukee could play a large role in who the next president is.

Bloomberg did some friendly pandering to the city. He mentioned his purchases of cheese and beer. He noted that the Bucks were playing the Knicks that night and that the Bucks have the best record in the NBA. Bloomberg also gave Mayor Tom Barrett a shout out, saying Barrett was one of Milwaukee’s great mayors and noting that he was a founding member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns with Bloomberg.

Bloomberg notably did not mention any of his opponents in the Democratic primary. Instead, he focused on President Donald Trump and his goals to address climate change and issues important to cities like Milwaukee such as violence and homelessness. “Trump has pulled this country apart. And some of it was done even before him. We just gotta pull everybody together,” Bloomberg said. To contrast himself with Trump on both climate change and trade, Bloomberg said that the United States needs to work with China, not against it, especially to address climate change.

After he was done speaking, Bloomberg shook hands and took pictures with members of the audience. The campaign played “Beautiful Day”, by U2, over the loudspeakers.

Photos From the Event

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