ST. PETERSBURG — Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has taken heat from some on the left for entering an already crowded Democratic presidential primary race so late in the game. Some have derided the former Republican as a centrist rich guy out of touch with the progressive heart of the party.
Bloomberg, though, has an ally in St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who tweeted Sunday that Democrats should welcome Bloomberg “with open arms.”
“He’s been dedicated to helping cities innovate, tackle climate change & reduce gun violence, and will give us another choice in 2020,” Kriseman tweeted.
Bloomberg, with a net worth estimated at more than $50 billion, threw his hat into a race on Sunday where the morality of wealth accumulation has taken center stage. He announced himself with a $30 million ad blitz that some of his contenders decried as an attempt to buy the election.
But it’s perhaps not surprising Kriseman, who considers himself a progressive, would receive the news of Bloomberg’s candidacy positively. Kriseman welcomed Bloomberg to St. Petersburg in January when the former mayor’s philanthropy awarded the Sunshine City a climate change award valued at $2.5 million.
The award, through the philanthropy’s American Cities Climate Challenge, aims to reduce cities’ carbon footprint by 20 percent by the end of 2020. The math behind the valuation is fuzzy and it came with no actual money for St. Petersburg.
And in 2017, after Kriseman’s reelection, he channeled Bloomberg when talking about his leadership philosophy to the Tampa Bay Times.
“As a scientist you try to experiment. If those experiments don’t work, the scientific community considers that to be a positive because you’ve added to science,” Kriseman said, relating an anecdote he heard from Bloomberg about chatting with newly hired city workers. “You know that it doesn’t work.”