Delegate Stacey Plaskett has endorsed Mike Bloomberg for president, citing his support of the territory, work on criminal justice and prospects to win in November.
“I think Bloomberg has the best chance to beat Trump in a one-on-one contest. … The end goal is to beat Trump, and he has really shown that is his goal as well,” Plaskett said Wednesday evening.
On some levels, the endorsement appears incongruous and on others it is a good fit with Plaskett’s past statements. The USVI is overwhelmingly Democratic and left of center on many issues, yet centrist Bloomberg only recently became a Democrat after serving as a Republican mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013. But Plaskett caucuses with the New Democrats, the centrist, pro-business wing of the party, rather than the progressive wing or the more conservative “Blue Dogs,” who may vote more frequently with Republicans.
Bloomberg’s policy approach of slight rollbacks of tax cuts and small tax increases on the wealthy and support of a public option rather than Medicare For All is more in line with this Democratic Party caucus. The New Democrats take a position to the right of Bloomberg, endorsing reforms to the Affordable Care Act and not mentioning a public option.
Plaskett also said Bloomberg played an important role in helping the Democratic Party win control of the House of Representatives in 2018.
“In the last election cycle, he supported Democrats throughout the country, with people and financing, to ensure they were elected,” she said.
“He has also been very helpful to [Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Stacey Abrams,” with her efforts to counter GOP voter suppression, she said. Abrams ran for governor in deeply red Georgia in 2018, barely losing in an election many on the left say she would have won if it were not for voter suppression.
As mayor of New York, Bloomberg backed a stop-and-frisk policing policy that disproportionately impacted people of color. Tuesday, the same day Plaskett’s endorsement came down, tapes surfaced of Bloomberg making apparently racially insensitive comments in defense of his stop-and-frisk policy at a 2015 speech in Colorado.
“Ninety-five percent of your murders, murderers and murder victims, fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities age 16 to 25,” Bloomberg can be heard saying.
He apologized for the stop-and-frisk policy in appearances in black churches late in 2019, just before starting his presidential run.
Asked about the tapes and Bloomberg’s past policies, Plaskett said every Democratic Party candidate has similar baggage, the Republicans are worse, and Bloomberg has gone further than most in recognizing and apologizing for his past actions.
“I think that as Democrats we need to hold people accountable. But every one of the candidates has had issues with race,” she said.
She listed issues with each candidate.
“Elizabeth Warren recently had three black women leave the campaign in Nevada saying they felt their issues were unheard and only responded to with progressive platitudes,” she said.
Amy Klobuchar had problematic prosecutions of black defendants.
Pete Buttigieg is dogged by concerns over his firing of South Bend’s first black police chief.
Bernie Sanders voted for the 1994 crime bill that many blame for the rise of mass incarceration of black men, and Joe Biden sponsored and helped write the bill, Plaskett said.
“Bloomberg not only has apologized but he has done things that countered it,” Plaskett said, saying Bloomberg has worked to promote affordable housing in New York City, and, more recently, nationwide, with his “Greenwood Initiative” a campaign proposal that includes help with mortgage down payments for black first-time homebuyers.
“I want someone who is not just willing to say they are sorry but are actually owning up to what they did wrong and are actually doing something positive to counter it,” she said.
She also said Bloomberg was there for the USVI when we needed it after the 2017 hurricanes and that, with a personal relationship with him, “I will be at the table, helping to write the policies if he is president.”
Bloomberg and his philanthropic organization have played an active role in the territory’s post-hurricane recovery. Bloomberg visited in person just days after the two 2017 hurricanes struck and helped raise several million dollars in assistance.
He has also opened a USVI campaign office and hired local staff.
The Bloomberg campaign issued a release Wednesday trumpeting the endorsement.
“The Virgin Islands were crippled after two massive hurricanes, but Mike immediately stepped up to help and lent his physical, financial and moral support. He had the individuals who worked on Superstorm Sandy come down and work closely with the local government of the Virgin Islands as we navigated through the federal government,” Plaskett said in the campaign’s release.
“Well before Mike decided to run for president, he committed to making sure Democrats across the country win and support the Democratic values that we fight for. His support helped us win the House in 2018 and he remains committed to taking our country back to its best values. Finally, as a Caribbean and a New Yorker, I like a fighter and Mike not only has the policies to bring equality and wealth creation to communities of color and economic development to keep us competitive in the world, he’s not afraid to fight. He’ll bring the fight to Donald Trump and he will fight against the terrible policies of the Republican Party. I’m ready to fight with him and get it done.”
Bloomberg compliments Plaskett in turn, saying her “strong leadership was essential to helping the USVI get back on its feet, and for months, my foundation worked with her and the community to support the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the hardest hit areas.”
“She recognizes that building more sustainable infrastructure is critical to the islands’ future, and she has championed those investments in Congress. I’m honored to have her support, and as climate change leads to extreme weather events, I will lead where Donald Trump has retreated, taking on the challenge of building resilience in vulnerable areas, and supporting communities that this administration has ignored.”