70°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Bloomberg will face rivals for first time in Las Vegas debate

Updated February 18, 2020 - 7:45 pm

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will make his debut on the national debate stage Wednesday at the Paris Las Vegas, a flashy location for a wealthy candidate who opted to skip Nevada and other early states in his late bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Although Nevadans will not get to weigh in on Bloomberg’s bid in Saturday’s caucuses, some local experts believe the former mayor’s first big appearance may yet influence the conclusion of the Silver State’s vote.

“It’s fitting that he enters the race in a diverse county like Clark, which looks like America will in the middle 21st century,” said Rob Lang, a professor of urban affairs at UNLV. “It’s fitting he enters in a top-30 metropolitan area with two professional sports franchises and an airport that crosses both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.”

Lang said Nevadans should not feel offended that Bloomberg skipped their state, as his campaign does not need to generate money through early-state momentum. Bloomberg, who has spent more than $300 million on TV advertising alone, can buy the name recognition other candidates often must earn through fundraising and performing well in early states.

Super Tuesday will see 14 states cast ballots on March 3.

“California and Texas have a combined population of about 70 million people,” Lang said. “That’s more than most countries in the European Union. There are more delegates at stake in Orange County (California) than in all of Nevada.”

Bloomberg will step on the debate stage largely because of a change in qualification rules by the Democratic National Committee, which no longer mandated candidates have a certain number of unique campaign donors. It’s the ninth debate in the Democratic nominating process.

Bloomberg cleared the polling threshold Tuesday, after an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed him with 19 percent support nationally, second only to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 31 percent.

On Saturday, Sanders slammed Bloomberg at a Nevada caucus kickoff dinner, criticizing his policies and past statements and saying he wouldn’t be able to assemble a diverse coalition necessary to boost turnout enough to beat President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg’s estimated net worth is nearly $62 billion. Tim O’Brien, an adviser to his campaign, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Bloomberg would sell his namesake information business if elected president.

The Bloomberg campaign did not respond to a Review-Journal request for comment.

Wednesday will be Bloomberg’s first real test as a candidate. Bloomberg has campaigned in more than two dozen states, but he does not take questions from voters and delivers a standard stump speech that lasts less than 15 minutes, often reading from a teleprompter.

Lang called him a “credible candidate” given his experience administering a city the size of three Nevadas, and he noted that a strong showing for Bloomberg could scramble the support for other moderate candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden.

“It affects Biden in that if Bloomberg is a credible debater, some moderates may just wait for Bloomberg,” Lang said. “There could be a fracturing of the vote with no clear front-runner in the early states. These early states are necessary for a (Sen. Amy) Klobuchar and (former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete) Buttigieg, but Bloomberg’s in another space entirely.”

Bloomberg, Biden, Klobuchar and Buttigieg will be joined on stage by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders. Billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, who is campaigning in Nevada in person and over the TV airwaves, did not qualify.

Dan Hart, a veteran political consultant in Southern Nevada, said Bloomberg’s campaign may be second-guessing the decision not to put his name on the ballot. Caucus states require a lot more early organization to win — some of the other candidates on the debate stage have had staff on the ground for more than a year — but Hart believes Bloomberg could have made a last-minute splash on the caucuses given the debate appearance.

“I think his performance could impact voters here and nationally,” Hart said. “We get to see him as a candidate — not a commercial.”

Hart said the other candidates are likely looking to pounce on Bloomberg from the moment he enters the Paris Las Vegas. Given that most debates have featured questions with a local appeal, Bloomberg is likely reading up on Nevada.

“It will be really interesting to see how he takes a punch during the debate and whether he is well-schooled on local issues,” Hart said. “Like Yucca Mountain. I haven’t heard him talk about that, and someone will probably call him on it.”

Contact Rory Appleton at RAppleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Henderson allows immediate sale of alcohol with curbside pickup - VIDEO
The city of Henderson decided Thursday evening to allow alcohol to be sold by restaurants as part of their curbside pickup service during the COVID-19 crisis. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak signs order banning any gathering of 10 or more people - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed a new order banning any gathering of 10 or more people in Nevada in another step the state has taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Takeaways from the president's daily briefing on coronavirus - VIDEO
RJ Washington correspondent Debra Saunders talks about today's daily White House news conference regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Friday, March 20, 2020. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judicial Department 5 Debate - Video
The Las Vegas Review-Journal hosts a debate between the 3 candidates running for Department 5 in Clark County District Court. Participating are Veronica M. Barisich, Terry A. Coffing and Blair Cowan Parker.
Trump cancels Las Vegas trip because of ‘coronavirus outbreak’ - VIDEO
President Donald Trump canceled planned travel to Las Vegas ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump signs $8.3 billion coronavirus package - VIDEO
President Trump signed a bill providing $8.3 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreaK, Friday, March 6, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Rosen supports Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen shows her support for Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench. (Sen. Jacky Rosen)
Sen. Cortez Masto shows support for Judge Togliatti - VIDEO
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto shows her support for senior state District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti to be appointed to the federal bench in Nevada. (Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto)
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews resigns following series of controversies - VIDEO
The "Hardball" host announced his departure Monday night, March 2, 2020, effective immediately. The anchor recently came under fire for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucasus to the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Candidates file for office in Clark County - VIDEO
Amy Klobuchar drops out of 2020 presidential race - VIDEO
On March 2, campaign officials announced Amy Klobuchar’s decision to suspend her presidential bid. The news comes on the eve of Super Tuesday and just one day after Pete Buttigieg also announced his decision to depart from the race. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Activist shouts warnings at Nevada Democratic chairman's home - VIDEO
A Southern California activist and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders spent nearly an hour shouting warnings and condemnations of the Democratic Party through a megaphone at the home of Nevada Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II on the eve of last week’s presidential caucuses, prompting him to call the police. (Maria Estrada)
The Nevada caucus in photos
Best shots from the Review-Journal photo staff's coverage of the Nevada Caucus, Saturday, February 22, 2020.
Bernie Sanders announces his Nevada caucus win to supporters in Texas
At a rally in San Antonio, Texas, Bernie Sanders announces winning the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Joe Biden addresses supporters in Las Vegas
Joe Biden energizes a crowd of supporters at the IBEW Hall in Las Vegas after the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Tweet highlights from the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus
Confusion, flaring tempers and misinformed volunteers highlighted Review-Journal tweets during the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Voters comment on Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
Nevada caucusgoers comment on the process from locations across the Las Vegas Valley, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doolittle Community Center hosts caucuses - VIDEO
The Doolittle Community Center hosted six precincts in one room for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, and voters engaged in debate and discussion about who to lead each precinct, Feb. 22, 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis High School has wait for caucus check-in - VIDEO
James Strange has been waiting in line to caucus for the first time for 45 minutes and some said they have been waiting for an hour at Desert Oasis High School for the Nevada Democratic caucuses. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Conservative guru encourages Republicans to vote in Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Republican activist Chuck Muth encourages his fellow GOP members to change party affiliation for a day to elect Bernie Sanders. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee at Desert Oasis High School - VIDEO
Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., stopped by the Nevada Democratic caucus at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day in Summerlin - VIDEO
Out-of-state caucus observer Ken Valz speaks about the Nevada Democratic caucuses at Palo Verde High School, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doors open for Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Caucusgoers are lining up Saturday morning to take part in the Nevada Democratic caucuses across the state (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day at East Last Vegas Community Center - VIDEO
Registration begins at the East Las Vegas Community Center for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It’s caucus day in Nevada - VIDEO
Democrats will gather at over 250 locations across the state to declare their presidential preferences in the Nevada caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High - VIDEO
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High in Henderson, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren holds rally with Julian Castro
Elizabeth Warren held her Get Out the Caucus Block Party with Secretary Julián Castro at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater.
Trump caps western swing with campaign rally in Las Vegas
President Trump speaks to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands gathered at the Las Vegas Convention Center during a tour across the western United States.
Anti-Trump Protestors at LVCC Rally - Video
President Trump speaks at a Keep America Great rally as a small group of protesters gather outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Thousands gather for Trump rally
Thousands showed up for President Donald Trump’s rally Friday morning, forming a line that stretched nearly a quarter mile around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, where President Trump will held a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
President Trump lands in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Donald Trump landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as part of a four-day western state swing. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Long lines during early voting in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The final day of the Nevada Democratic Party’s early presidential caucuses wrapped up Tuesday, as thousands of Democrats lined up at 55 locations around the state for their last shot at filing an early preference card before the traditional caucuses on Saturday. Long lines were seen at CSN Charleston in Las Vegas. (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk pay for child care workers - Video
Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk to care in action about the importance of Medicare for All, paid leave and child care. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
THE LATEST
Most cities lack coronavirus supplies, survey finds

A survey of the nation’s mayors — including several in Nevada — found 90 percent of cities lack sufficient medical supplies to protect emergency responders and medical workers from contracting the coronavirus.

 
Murren: Task force helping state get supplies

A newly formed public-private partnership will help Nevada “punch above our weight” when it comes to securing supplies needed to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, Jim Murren said Monday.