PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is endorsing Mike Bloomberg for president, giving the former New York City mayor his first gubernatorial support as he makes an unorthodox bid for the party’s nomination.
Raimondo revealed her endorsement during a Wednesday morning campaign event in Providence at the Wexford Innovation Center, a facility her administration often cities as a crown jewel of her economic development strategy.
“Mike is a problem-solver with a long track record of delivering results, and I’m proud to stand with him today,” Raimondo said. “From fighting gun violence to addressing climate change, to combating the opioid crisis and more, Mike understands the issues that impact our lives every day. We cannot risk another four years of President Trump’s destructive policies, and I know that Mike is the right leader to take him on.”
The endorsement is unlikely to have much impact in terms of votes: Rhode Island’s presidential primary isn’t until April 28, and the state controls only 26 of 3,979 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. But it will strengthen Bloomberg’s case as a serious candidate by aligning him with a leader fresh off a successful stint leading the Democratic Governors Association.
Bloomberg, a former Republican and independent, is viewed skeptically by many in the party for waiting until last November to enter the race and skipping the usually crucial early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He has instead focused on Super Tuesday, March 3, when a large number of states including Massachusetts will cast their votes — and has already spent huge sums from his multibillion-dollar fortune on TV advertising and a rapidly growing staff.
The RealClearPolitics polling average currently shows Bloomberg in fourth place nationally, behind former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but ahead of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Some moderates fear Bloomberg’s candidacy could harm Biden’s chances of consolidating their wing, while some Bloomberg backers argue he is an insurance policy in light of Biden’s own weaknesses.
Raimondo and Bloomberg have known each other for a number of years, with Bloomberg notably switched his allegiance in Rhode Island from then-independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee to Raimondo during the 2014 election cycle. Both have backgrounds in the financial sector — and both are viewed skeptically by the party’s progressive wing.
Before Wednesday, Bloomberg’s most recent public visit to Rhode Island was in November 2018, when he joined Raimondo for a roundtable discussion at the ACI about her response to the opioid crisis.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook