Michael Bloomberg Looks to California to Bolster Grassroots Efforts

Michael Bloomberg kicked off his campaign's "Day One" tour with several stops in California. The candidate has chosen to skip early primary states for California's March primary.  (Mark Felix/Getty Images)

As part of his campaign's national tour of 27 states, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg hosted dozens of gatherings in California on Saturday to help raise money for his presidential bid.

Despite an advertising blitz that Bloomberg has personally funded to the tune of $100 million, the "Day One" tour will attempt to spawn a grassroots effort to bolster a campaign that has mainly been bankrolled by the billionaire candidate himself.

At one Golden State stop, guests gathered at the Pleasanton home of Mike Cordano, president and CEO of the computer hardware company Western Digital.

One of Cordano's guests? San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

"I'm passionate about Mike's leadership because I want someone who is about solutions," said Liccardo, who originally endorsed California Sen. Kamala Harris but is now one of several city leaders who are backing Bloomberg.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo speaks to attendees at a Michael Bloomberg campaign event in Pleasanton on Jan. 12. (Sara Hossaini/KQED)

Liccardo said that the Pleasanton event was not aimed at raising money and described it as a "friendraiser."

The Bloomberg Family Foundation has offered philanthropic support to nearly 200 cities over the years. It sponsors a mayoral training program at Harvard that Liccardo himself attended.

San Anselmo resident Andy Bane attended the event. He said he's a former Republican looking for a Trump alternative. 

The 2020 election.

"I've been leaning toward Amy Klobuchar, honestly, but I think Bloomberg represents some interesting possibilities," Bane said. "We need a leader in the White House who brings the right principles and priorities to help us come together and work together as a country, not just to grow the economy but to do it in a cleaner, healthier, safer way."

Bloomberg's campaign has chosen to skip early primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and hopes to make large gains in March on Super Tuesday when Californians and others head to the polls.

Bloomberg is one of the world's richest people, with a net worth of roughly $50 billion. He formally announced his candidacy in November 2019, with a goal to "defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America."

While Bloomberg has positioned himself as a champion of the fight against gun violence and climate change, as well as a supporter of immigration, the candidate has also had trouble garnering the more progressive wing of the Democratic party. In particular, the policing strategy during his tenure as New York City mayor called "stop-and-frisk," was found to have disproportionately impacted people of color.

Shortly after announcing his candidacy, Bloomberg apologized in Brooklyn for the policing strategy.

KQED's Sara Hossaini contributed to this report.