Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael...

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a news conference at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum in Augusta, Ga., on Dec. 6. Credit: AP / The Augusta Chronicle / Michael Holahan

Daily Point

Bellone's big day

The timing wasn’t the best for Steve Bellone — with the jury in the trial of former District Attorney Thomas Spota starting deliberations and the county executive’s own planned announcement to create a more diverse workforce in Suffolk — but the Michael Bloomberg campaign said Monday was the day.

And so it was. The day after a New York Times front-page story about mayors across the country supporting Bloomberg for president, Bellone became the first county executive in New York to endorse the former mayor.

Bellone said he has been in discussions with the campaign for a while, and that an endorsement from a Democrat in a suburban county that President Donald Trump carried was important. 

“The Dems have to put up someone who can attract voters from both sides of the aisle,” Bellone told The Point, adding that he is working with the campaign to coordinate more support for Bloomberg.

In making the announcement, Bellone said he worked with Bloomberg after 9/11 when Bellone was Babylon Town supervisor and later as county executive. Various initiatives included climate change and gun safety. “I’ve seen him a bunch over the years,” Bellone said, saying his water-quality efforts caught Bloomberg’s attention.

Bloomberg donated $45,000 to Bellone’s 2015 campaign and another $48,349 in July  2017, after Trump was in office for a few months.

 “I reached out to them and made the case why it was important to keep Suffolk County in Democratic hands,” Bellone said. “I was at the 2016 Democratic convention and watched him up on the stage call Trump a con man.”

Bellone, who won a third term last month and can’t run again for county executive, said he was getting some blowback locally from progressive Democrats, as well as calls of approval. But Bellone says he sees Bloomberg in it to the end — and if this become a delegate race in a fractured field, the billionaire businessman has the most resources.  

Meanwhile, for Bellone, it is back to waiting for the jury verdict in the federal trial of  former Suffolk District Attorney Spota, whom Bellone called on to resign in 2016, more than a year before his indictment on charges of obstruction of justice.

— Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Talking Point

Have Bloomberg as a boss

One place where Michael Bloomberg has hinted at his campaign strategy for tackling the Democratic nomination? His help-wanted ads. 

Among the former New York mayor’s widespread multimillion-dollar presidential campaign ad spend are a few dozen Facebook ads with a sunny message to potential employees: “America needs you.”

“Your work as a field organizer can change America for the better,” the December help-wanted ads say (at a total cost of more than $100,000). 

Those ads, which can be viewed in Facebook’s political ad archive, are targeted largely to states with March primaries: big ones including Texas, Florida, California and Virginia. But they’re also targeted to states that may get slightly less attention on Super Tuesday or the other big March voting days: North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Missouri and Arizona, for example. 

Democratic consultant Bruce Gyory calls places like this “the second-tier states” for the upcoming primary season, and suggests that Bloomberg’s path is to put serious resources there and surprise people by coming out with a delegate trove while other candidates split elsewhere. 

It’s not necessary to win each state outright: It’s possible to lose the total vote but pick up delegates due to the proportional system of delegate allocation.

Bloomberg has been open about his break-the-mold strategy of skipping the four earliest contests from Iowa to South Carolina given his late start, but spokesman Marc La Vorgna says the activity in March and April primary states has the added benefit of preparing early for a general election campaign in crucial places like Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona. 

Bloomberg’s first campaign office opened in North Carolina on Sunday. “You’re going to see a flood of them coming,” La Vorgna told The Point. 

The spokesman said that more than 100 field staff members have been hired by the campaign. 

The ads include another reason to join the Bloomberg team besides patriotism or Bloomberg fandom: “Get great pay and benefits.”

Specifically, $6,000 per month, according to the job application link.  

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Impeachment Club

Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail

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Quick Points

  • One popular theory says that the election success of conservative populist Boris Johnson in Britain augurs well for President Donald Trump next year. Then what should we make of the tens of thousands of Italians who gathered in Rome last weekend to protest that country’s far-right leader, Matteo Salvini, and his anti-migrant, anti-European language?
  • North Korea described activity at a missile-engine, satellite-launching site as “another crucial test,” its second in a week. Left unsaid: A test of what -- a rocket engine or President Donald Trump’s willingness to engage in talks? 
  • Former FBI Director James Comey now says he was “wrong” to tell the public that the FBI properly handled its surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. It's surely just a coincidence that Comey’s admission comes after Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report said essentially the same thing.
  • Mexico is objecting to the new trade deal it signed with the United States and Canada, upset over a provision that the United States can send up to five attaches to check on labor conditions in Mexico. So is that nation protesting the deal it signed or the fact that somebody apparently didn't read it?
  • Senate Democrats say they are concerned about the possibility of holding an impartial impeachment trial of President Donald Trump after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will be in “total coordination” with the White House. Wait, did they really expect McConnell to be impartial? 
  • Only 10 percent of donations collected by Catholic churches for the Peter’s Pence charity actually goes to charitable works, with most of the collection going to plugging holes in the Vatican’s administrative budget. Which seems to make the Catholic Church no better than many of those robo-callers we try to block. 

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie