Bloomberg wins key SC endorsement ahead of possible 2020 bid

Politics

FILE – In this Feb. 26, 2019, file photo, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a news conference at a gun control advocacy event in Las Vegas. Tennessee’s top election officials say Bloomberg has requested a petition that would require securing 2,500 signatures from registered voters in less than a month if he wants to qualify for the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot. The secretary of state’s office confirmed Wednesday, Nov. 13, that Bloomberg requested the ballot petition earlier this week. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Before he’s officially a presidential candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is picking up a key endorsement in South Carolina.

Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, told The Associated Press on Monday that he’s ready to back the billionaire if he decides to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

“He’s got what it takes and he’s got the resources to take it to Trump,” Benjamin said in an interview. “I believe firmly that Mike Bloomberg can win. I think resources are going to matter.”

First elected in 2010, Benjamin is one of South Carolina’s highest-profile black politicians and was among the candidates to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016. He’s met with nearly all of the 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls, offering advice as they wind their way through South Carolina, home to the first southern primary next year and a contest in which support from black voters is critical.

Benjamin recently finished a term as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an organization through which he got to know Bloomberg well. Bloomberg has endeared himself to mayors across the nation in recent years by spending millions of dollars on local partnerships to support his policy goals.

Bloomberg is working to repair his relationship with black voters ahead of his expected presidential candidacy, which could be announced in the coming days. He addressed a black church in Brooklyn on Sunda y to apologize for his longstanding support of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy, a practice that he embraced as mayor and continued to defend despite its disproportionate impact on people of color.

Benjamin was in the audience at the church.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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