I’m voting for Joe Biden in the March 3, California Super Tuesday primary.
I’ve held onto my ballot until the last possible moment, because — despite working hard knocking on doors and making phone calls for Mike Bloomberg, as the candidate I thought had the best chance of beating Donald Trump, all that has changed — especially in California.
After a full-year of contributing to and supporting Elizabeth Warren, whom I met a decade ago and agree with on most issues, the chaotic Iowa Caucus convinced me that it was time to take some drastic action. The Democratic Party apparatus and its ineffectual leader Tom Perez, failed miserably, shocking party activists across the country, about how thoroughly unprepared we were as national Democrats to take on the Trump juggernaut. Iowa became a flashing red light: something dramatic had to be done and fast, if we were going to save the country from the lawless, soulless Trump and his fellow White Supremacists. With Mike Bloomberg offering to finance and build a shadow infrastructure for the Democratic Party to support candidates for the Senate, House and Presidency, the choice to me was compelling. Amateur hour was over. It was time for a well-financed candidate with pockets deeper than the GOP’s to take on Trump.
Warren’s already-weakened candidacy began to wobble even more after floundering finishes in Iowa, and New Hampshire, two states she was once expected to win. I was willing to abandon the candidate of my heart to support a much more pragmatic person like Bloomberg, for whom I’d crossed party lines to vote for as NYC Mayor 15 years ago. Bloomberg did a superb job rebuilding NYC after 9/11, and had the vast resources to resuscitate a comatose Democratic social media presence, and spend billions of dollars to dump Trump and go-toe-to-toe with the GOP in every Senatorial and House race in the nation.
But, in a mere two weeks, Bloomberg’s campaign flopped, despite a terrific, well-run operation in our local town of Napa, California. His overly centralized campaign brain-trust, made a fatal mistake at the outset by agreeing to have Bloomberg appear in the Nevada Democratic Presidential Debate, after the dumb DNC had denied Cory Booker — a superb candidate — a place on the debate stage. Bloomberg’s top staff had the perfect reason to refuse any debates until after Super Tuesday: If the DNC wouldn’t change the rules for Cory Booker, Bloomberg’s staff should have argued that they did not want Tom Perez to change the rules for Mike. Bloomberg could have entered the Presidential race on the high road, demanding fairness for the last standing candidate of color to remain on the debate stage. In fact, because he committed to use his billions to build the Party, Bloomberg could have insisted that Booker be included in the next debate. Booker wasn’t, and Bloomberg was, a tone-deaf and tactically terrible action which backfired.
Instead, the Bloomberg team, not only made the ill-informed decision to throw Mike Bloomberg into the Debate — after San Francisco’s former Mayor and California’s former House Speaker Willie Brown had advised them what a bad political move that would be — but then, Bloomberg top-staffer Howard Wolfson admitted to the New York Times that he had failed to properly prepare Bloomberg for his first high-stakes debate in 11 years. Not only had the Bloomberg boys (and they were all men) bungled the decision about having Mike participate in the debate, but they confessed that they hadn’t thoroughly prepared him for what to expect. Why that team wasn’t fired the following day for such a consequential blunder….I’m still shaking my head.
Despite the deep damage that was done to Bloomberg’s on-the-ground campaign — with dozens of volunteers quitting after his Nevada debate debacle — I soldiered on, making hundreds of calls and knocking on dozens of doors. I believed that a national Democratic ticket headed by Sanders would hand Trump re-election, rob us of our best chance in a generation to take back the US Senate, and cost us the Supreme Court for the rest of my lifetime.
The courageous Democratic Senator from Alabama, Doug Jones, the tough prosecutor of the KKK members who murdered the four little Black girls in a Birmingham Church in 1963, would be in real danger of holding onto his Senate seat this year, if he had to defend Bernie’s bizarre political history, and his $60 trillion spending plan. Despite the delusions of the Sandernistas, there’s no way on Alabama’s Camelia-blooming-earth that Bernie helps Doug Jones win re-election. And, a Sanders-led ticket would have a reverse-coattail effect for Mark Kelly in Arizona, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, Amy McGrath in Kentucky, Sara Gideon in Maine, Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, M.J. Hegar in Texas, Barbar Bollier in Kansas, or Jaime Harrison in South Carolina — all locked in tight US Senate races that could flip the Senate.
Clarity came in the form of James Clyburn, the long-time South Carolina Congressman, who answered the call of his ancestors to save the nation. Revered across his state, Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden and in Biden’s own words, “carried me home on his shoulders,” as well as the entire National Democratic Party. Biden’s blow-out victory among a highly diverse electorate — and with turnout that nearly matched the Obama record of 2008 — brought his own campaign back to life, and lighted up the path to victory for the Democrats in November.
Equally important was the turnout from Joe Cunningham’s Congressional District in Charleston, SC, — heavily for Biden — underscoring a strong desire for someone at the head of the ticket to preserve Democratic Members of Congress in swing districts. Biden’s smart shout-out to Jaime Harrison, the determined Democrat locked in a dead-heat with Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina Senate race, was also extraordinarily important.
As we watched the historic results coming in from South Carolina, my wife Carol and I, discussed what we would do with our Super Tuesday ballots. What would have the greatest effect of reducing Bernie Sanders’ California Delegate total, help elect the eventual Democratic nominee and defeat Trump and the Republicans? Carol was fluctuating between Warren and Klobuchar, but their poor performances in South Carolina had knocked them out of consideration. The fundamental question we faced was this: who, other than Sanders, would have the best chance of crossing the 15% threshold in California to win some delegates of their own? Who could we support?
I checked several California-based polls which reinforced what I learned while working on the Bloomberg campaign: Bloomberg was topping out in California at 12%, with both Biden and Warren having the best chance to slow a Sanders’ stampede. Neither one of us could see Warren — who hurt herself badly in the South Carolina debate — going all the way to the White House. I informed the local Bloomberg campaign officials that I could not, in good conscience, ask Democrats to vote for Mike Bloomberg any longer, when I believed, after South Carolina, my vote would have more value for Biden, who could cut significantly into Sanders’ delegate haul, with every point over 15% he received on Super Tuesday. If Warren did that too — even better.
And, since Biden needs money, staff and campaign infrastructure as Rep. Clyburn bluntly told him, the best way Bloomberg could now defeat Donald Trump — his initial rationale for entering the Presidential race — would be to endorse Biden after Super Tuesday, and commit money and staff to Biden and the National Democratic Party to crush Trump and the GOP. It’s why I backed Bloomberg in the first place, and it is, in my judgement, the best way to invest his billions to save the country.
So, I’m voting for Joe Biden on Super Tuesday, and I urge Mike Bloomberg to make the next day, Super Wednesday, by backing Biden as well.