Berkowitz endorses Bloomberg, whose foundation gave more than $1M to Anchorage

Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg with Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz at an event in 2018 at the Anchorage Museum (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage)

In the Democratic contest for president, Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz is endorsing…another mayor.

Former three-term mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg.

The news was first reported Tuesday by Politico.

Berkowitz is one of a several current and former mayors around the country to endorse Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman, politician, and philanthropist running as a moderate who says he can win against President Donald Trump.

“Michael Bloomberg, of all the candidates in the race, Democrat or Republican, has the greatest ability to unite this country. And I think that the divide that is splitting America apart poses the greatest threat to our country that we’ve seen in generations,” Berkowitz said in an interview.

Bloomberg Philanthropy, the candidate’s charity non-profit, has made numerous high-profile contributions to local governments around the country to foster civic projects. In Anchorage it has helped pay for a multi-year grant to stand up an innovation team embedded at City Hall. And in November of 2018, Bloomberg announced the city was being awarded $1million for setting up the Solutions for Energy and Equity through Design Lab, a cross between a think tank and community art space overseen by the Anchorage Museum.

[Listen here: Bloomberg philanthropy gives $1M to Anchorage for new project]

“We have a saying at Bloomberg Philanthropies: ‘Culture brings capital faster than capital brings culture,'” Bloomberg said during an event in Anchorage announcing the award.

“If you have a city that’s down on its luck, start by getting some artists there,” he added.

Michael Bloomberg announcing Anchorage as the recipient of the 2018 Public Art Challenge grant. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes – Alaska Public Media, Anchorage)

According to Politico, “more than two dozen” current or former mayors have endorsed Bloomberg. They range in size from major cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia, to Chillicothe, Ohio, with a population of of less than 22,000.

Berkowitz said that the grants awarded to Anchorage had given him the opportunity to interact with Bloomberg “on many occasions,” and came away impressed by him.

Bloomberg has run as a Republican and independent candidate in the past. During his political career he’s pushed for policies that span the ideological divide, from socially progressive to fiscally conservative. He’s also been a major financial donor to politicians from both parties, though in recent years those contributions have tilted heavily Democratic.

In his bid for the party’s presidential nomination he is running an unconventional campaign, bypassing early-voting primary contests to focus on winning Democratic delegates in the Super Tuesday election states.

“We’ve got an imperfect primary process,” Berkowitz said, but stressed that he wanted to see a candidate who could win in the election.

Berkowitz would not name a second-choice candidate he would support if Bloomberg failed to make it to the nominating convention. However, he indicated he would support whomever ends up being the party nominee.

“At the last election I was pretty clear that I was for anybody who’s name was not Donald Trump, and I will stick with that,” he said.

Bloomberg announced his candidacy late in the race last November, and many Democrats and progressives have criticized his strategy as simply using hundreds of millions of dollars in personal wealth to dominate political advertising and bypass the party’s political process. According to reporting by the New York Times, to date, Bloomberg has massively outspent every other Democratic candidate in the field.

Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska.

@ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

Previous articleTraveling Music 2-9-20
Next articleMeet the Cabbage Fairies of the Alaska State Fair | INDIE ALASKA