By Alex Samuels, Texas Tribune
Hoping to capitalize on the muddled results of the Iowa caucuses, billionaire Michael Bloomberg is releasing a new slate of Texas endorsements and taking a big step this weekend toward opening nearly 20 offices in the state as Texas prepares for its primary March 3.
Bloomberg’s campaign unveiled an endorsement list that includes three state representatives, several former mayors and some city council members. His campaign also said it plans to open 11 additional field offices throughout the state this weekend, pressing forward on plans to expand the campaign’s footprint into the largest operation of any Democratic presidential candidate in Texas.
Bloomberg’s latest endorsers include some who’ve announced their support in recent days and some making it known for the first time Wednesday — including state Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton, who’ll serve as a state co-chair for the campaign. One of the state lawmakers on the list, state Rep. Cesár Blanco, D-El Paso, previously supported the failed presidential bids of both Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro. State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, also announced his support for Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Some already-announced names on the list include former Houston Mayor Bill White, former El Paso Mayor John Cook and Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion — all Democrats.
“Support for Mike grows daily as we open new field offices, engage with Texas voters and share Mike’s message,” said Ashlea Turner, Bloomberg’s Texas state director. “These endorsements reflect the diversity of support across Texas from leaders who know that Mike is the only candidate that can beat Donald Trump and rebuild America.”
The Bloomberg campaign initially made its ambitious plans known late last year when it named its first four hires here, including a state director.
Bloomberg has already built an unmatched ground game in Texas. A spokeswoman for Bloomberg’s campaign said it currently has 72 staff members on the ground and will have 150 staffers in the state by Super Tuesday. Elizabeth Warren, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, until recently led the way in building a formal Texas organization, making over two dozen hires spread across San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley.
Bloomberg, who is skipping the early states’ primaries and caucuses in favor of waiting to compete until Super Tuesday, has visited the Texas four times since launching his presidential campaign 10 weeks ago. Last month, he campaigned in San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin, Waco and Dallas. This weekend, his campaign will partake in a surrogate bus tour with stops in San Elizario, Marfa, Austin and Dallas. Bloomberg will also be a guest speaker for the Johnson Rayburn Richards awards dinner, hosted by the Harris County Democratic Party, on Feb. 13.
He still has work to do to improve his standing in the state, however. Former Vice President Joe Biden has topped most polls. One Texas survey since Bloomberg’s launch, released Dec. 11 by CNN, found Bloomberg at 5% — good enough for fifth place but still far behind Biden, who placed first with 35%.