What do California voters think of Michael Bloomberg?


We’re back to 18. Eighteen Democrats seeking the party’s presidential nomination, trying to get some, any, voter attention before the caucuses and primaries begin.

The latest late entry to etch his name on the roster is one of the world’s richest men, who once ran one of its richest cities — a big-B billionaire who says he will fund his own campaign, taking no donations to show he “can’t be bought” but bringing derision from rivals that he is the one doing the buying.

Michael R. Bloomberg, former New York mayor and owner of a media company that bears his name, isn’t the only billionaire in the race. California’s Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, is also spending millions in pursuit of the White House.

But Steyer’s been in the race long enough to try to make a dent in early voting states. The former mayor — late to the game after saying months earlier he would not run — is aiming to do well on Super Tuesday, March 3, when Democrats in California and 13 other states make their primary preferences known. (Republicans vote in 13 states that day.)

That gives Bloomberg three months to try to sway voters that he is best positioned to take on President Trump, and his ads are already running on television sets across California. What do voters in the state think of his candidacy?

I think somebody like Bloomberg or Trump tend to be the kings within their organization. … I think it’s just the wrong mindset.

Rick Spickelmier, 60, San Francisco

Rick Spickelmier.

(Mark Z. Barabak / Los Angeles TImes)

Rick Spickelmier likes Michael Bloomberg. He appreciates the millions he’s spent promoting causes like gun control and addressing climate change.

But Spickelmier doesn’t think much of the billionaire’s bid for the White House.

“I’m not a big fan of businesspeople running for president,” the 60-year-old software engineer said Monday. Why not? Just look at Trump, he said with a laugh.

“I think somebody like Bloomberg or Trump tend to be the kings within their organization,” Spickelmier said. “That doesn’t work very well when you go into government, when you have to work with people to get things done. I think it’s just the wrong mindset.”

A political independent and self-described middle-of-the-roader, Spickelmier is leaning toward former Vice President Joe Biden. But he sees a continued role for Bloomberg and his Midas fortune.

“I like his ideas,” Spickelmeier said. “I’d like him to keep funding those causes — outside of government.”

Mark Z. Barabak

If he’s for something that’s right, I’ll think about him.

Raynell Douglas, Inglewood

Raynell Douglas

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Raynell Douglas isn’t optimistic about the state of the nation.

“America is going down,” the cleaning-business owner said as she left Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen in Inglewood with a bag of side dishes for Thanksgiving. “People in other countries are over there laughing at us.”

Douglas voted for President Obama twice, and she voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 in hopes of helping her become the country’s first female president. The Democrat expresses no love for Trump: “I’ll pray for him. That’s all I’ll say about it.”

Douglas declined to give her age but says she’s thinking of retiring next year and is old enough to receive Medicare, a benefit she wants the next president, whoever he or she is, to protect. Douglas likes Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders but isn’t familiar enough with the junior U.S. senator from her own state, Kamala Harris, to form more than a generally positive impression of her.

Bloomberg is still mostly an unknown quantity to her. Douglas only knows he’s a billionaire with a history as a Republican. But given her fears that the country is on the wrong track, Douglas is willing to give Bloomberg a chance, especially if he’ll help the poor, the homeless and seniors — and do something to stem climate change.

“If he’s for something that’s right, I’ll think about him,” Douglas said.

– Tyrone Beason

~~~

Everything’s too far. It’s gone too far this way, and now the candidates think they have to go all the way over there to get people.

Michael Paleno, 56, from West L.A.

Michael Paleno

(Melanie Mason / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Paleno, 56, considers himself “semi-political” and is only somewhat following the election, he said.

“I just got burned out on it, to be honest with you,” the real estate appraiser from West L.A. said while getting coffee in Culver City. The registered Republican who has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in the past — Barack Obama, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton — plans on voting in the Democratic primary and is looking for a centrist candidate.

“Everything’s too far. It’s gone too far this way, and now the candidates think they have to go all the way over there to get people,” he said, spreading his arms to emphasize the gulf. “But I don’t think that’s the case.”

He said he’s unsure about Bloomberg’s candidacy and doesn’t know that much about the former mayor.

“I just know he’s a finance guy from New York. I know he just wants to beat Trump. He thinks he has what it takes,” he said.

“Here comes a guy that’s not a politician coming in, and I don’t know if it works or not, to be honest with you.”

– Melanie Mason

~~~

He’s like the super-rich that was here at the beginning of this country.

Jay Brown, 72, Sacramento

Jay Brown

(Anita Chabria / Los Angeles Times)

Jay Brown, 72, of Sacramento, said he doesn’t know too much about this presidential election because “I stopped watching TV … ever since Trump’s been in office.” Standing in his shop, where colorful African-made apparel is crammed onto racks and the walls are lined with photos of Muhammad Ali, Bob Marley and Malcolm X, Brown said that he takes voting seriously but waits until a few weeks before the election to start paying attention to candidates. Right now, “there are too many to think about,” said Brown.

King of Curls, a black hair and apparel boutique, is iconic in the state capital, known as one of the most diverse cities in the state. Its concrete block exterior is painted in Rastafarian colors, and the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” is written on a poster board that hangs in the window.

“The last few months, I get it to what I’m going to look at, and then I decide right then,” said Brown of how he decides his vote. He said the economy and education are two of his top issues. “Education over everything I think should be free.”

But he wouldn’t give his vote to Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of whom support tuition-free college education and reductions of student loans, based just on that single issue. Brown is looking at “a combination of things,” including the economy, he said.

Brown said he is skeptical of Bloomberg because of his wealth. “He’s like the super-rich that was here at the beginning of this country, and he’s still from that line of thinking,” he said. “So he would have to something to show that he’s for the people.”

– Anita Chabria

~~~

A 77-year-old billionaire must be so out of touch with modern American culture, modern American labor, modern American food.

Joel Perales, 34, East Los Angeles

Joel Perales

(Michael Finnegan / Los Angeles Times)

Joel Perales was working Tuesday morning on a new fan hood at the Eggslut food stand in Grand Central Market in downtown L.A. The heating, air conditioning and ventilation technician wondered about Bloomberg’s spending choices, including his massive TV ad buy.

Perales, a 34-year-old independent who lives in East Los Angeles, voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016 and is leaning toward Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii in 2020.

Bloomberg carries no appeal for Perales. He knows he was New York City mayor, but otherwise does not know much about him.

“It’s suspicious that people are willing to invest all this money to become a public servant,” he said. “You don’t invest that kind of money unless there’s an outcome.”

To Perales, Bloomberg’s age is another downside. “A 77-year-old billionaire must be so out of touch with modern American culture, modern American labor, modern American food,” he said.

– Michael Finnegan

~~~

He’s a billionaire, and I don’t feel we need another billionaire in the White House, but if it’s him versus Donald Trump, then I will vote for Bloomberg

Phillip Aleman, 45, Van Nuys

Phillip Aleman.

(Melissa Gomez / Los Angeles Times)

Phillip Aleman, 45, wasn’t looking for another billionaire in the presidential race, but he’s keeping an open mind.

“Everyone has a right to run,” he said during a shopping trip at Westfield Century City mall on Monday evening.

The Democrat has been following the race closely and wants a candidate who works for the people and doesn’t take contributions from corporations. So far, he said, his top choice is Warren. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Harris are distant second choices.

Aleman, a national marketing director for Broadway shows, lived briefly in New York during Bloomberg’s time in office, but couldn’t recall how the mayor’s policies affected him.

The ultimate goal for 2020, he said, is to have a candidate who can beat Trump. He said he couldn’t see supporting Bloomberg in the primary, but the general election is different.

“He’s a billionaire, and I don’t feel we need another billionaire in the White House,” he said, “but if it’s him versus Donald Trump, then I will vote for Bloomberg.”

– Melissa Gomez

~~~

I saw his ad 15 minutes ago on my TV. I’m not a fan.

Kaitlin Overturf, 22, Riverside

Kaitlin Overturf, 22, of Riverside, supports former Housing Secretary Julián Castro’s presidential bid but has been discouraged by his meager showing in the polls — and even more discouraged by the fact that Steyer was on the most recent Democratic debate stage and Castro was not.

“You’re here because you have a lot of money,” Overturf said she thought of Steyer.

So Overturf was not exactly thrilled to learn that another self-funding billionaire had just entered the race and was announcing his arrival with an expensive series of television advertisements.

“I saw his ad 15 minutes ago on my TV. I’m not a fan,” Overturf, a college student, said of Bloomberg while sitting at a cafe inside a Barnes and Noble in Riverside on Monday afternoon. “I was sitting next to my mom on the couch — we both just looked at each other and rolled our eyes.”

Overturf doesn’t mind if a billionaire runs for president, and she’s not bothered by his age, either.

But she didn’t like Bloomberg’s late arrival, which she sees as opportunistic, and she’s bothered by what little she knows of his tenure as New York’s mayor. Last weekend, she watched a “Saturday Night Live” segment about Bloomberg newly apologizing for his “stop and frisk” policy as mayor, which she saw as self-serving, given his past defenses of the policing strategy that disproportionately affected people of color.

It didn’t help that the “SNL” segment came right after she watched another Steyer ad — the only other candidate whose TV ads she’s seen. “They’re not endearing themselves to me by running for president when there are other things they can be doing with their money.”

– Matt Pearce

~~~

Yeah, you got money you can just jump in the race like Donald Trump did, just buy your way into it…. (but) be like everyone else. Earn your votes.

Matthew Gomez, 28, Sacramento

Mathew Gomez in Sacramento.

(Anita Chabria / Los Angeles Times)

Mathew Gomez, a computer science student at Sacramento City College, says he is “in between” Republican and Democrat and likes Harris so far. “She seems really promising,” Gomez, 28, said of the California senator. “She means what she says, and I think she’s probably going to stick to it.”

He was not impressed by Bloomberg.

“Yeah, you got money, you can just jump in the race like Donald Trump did, just buy your way into it,” he said.

“Be like everyone else. Earn your votes.”

When it comes to the next president, Gomez is looking for “someone who can do the job without putting up … red flags and making us look bad like Trump.”

– Anita Chabria

~~~

I don’t actually know who I am supporting yet.

Jessica Lorenzo, 30, Long Beach

Jessica Lorenzo of Long Beach

(Seema Mehta / Los Angeles TImes)

Jessica Lorenzo of Long Beach said she’ll start doing research on candidates as the March 3 primary nears.

“The most important thing is getting Trump out of office. That’s number one,” said the former doula and stay-at-home mom of three.

Lorenzo, 30, said she liked several candidates, including Harris: “She’s honest; she seems hardworking to me.”

But what she’d really like is another Obama in the White House. “I was very happy when Obama was president. … If Michelle would run that would be great!”

She had never heard of Bloomberg, but after being told he planned to not accept donations, she said, “That’s interesting. That seems good.”

She said as the election gets closer she will examine the candidates’ records. “What they stand for and what party they’re in. Is he a Democrat?”

– Seema Mehta

~~~

I’m not even interested in what he has to say. We’re already so far into the race. Get over yourself.

Morgan McGlothan, 23, Inglewood

Morgan McGlothan of Inglewood

(Tyrone Beason / Los Angeles TImes)

For barista Morgan McGlothan, 23, the problem with the primary race isn’t just too many candidates, but that they’re all running to lead a federal government that she believes is out of touch with average working people.

“It’s so chaotic at this point and there’s no flashy, stand-out candidate,” she said. “So it’s been easy to tune out.”

McGlothan, who lives in Inglewood, considers herself a “radically liberal” independent, but she votes Democratic.

Bloomberg’s Republican Party roots take him out of contention as a possible candidate to support, she said. And as for his late entry into the crowded field: “We’re already so far into the race. Get over yourself.”

“I know I live in a bubble,” McGlothan said of the progressive political world she dwells in, “but no one that I know is even talking about him.”

McGlothan is taking a wait-and-see approach to the primary, but one thing is certain: “I don’t like Joe Biden,” she said. The former vice president, she added, “represents that old-school Democrat,” much the way Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

– Tyrone Beason

~~~

That’s something I feel like I’ve never heard about from a candidate.

Matthew Berdiago, 20, Loyola Marymount University

Matthew Berdiago in L.A.

(Melissa Gomez / Los Angeles Times)

Matthew Berdiago hadn’t heard that Bloomberg was running for president, or anything else about him.

Berdiago, 20, was waiting at Loyola Marymount University in L.A. for his Monday afternoon class to start. He plans to attend medical school and wants to support a candidate who advocates for access to affordable healthcare. He is leaning more toward candidates like Sanders and Warren.

He did like the fact that Bloomberg said he would not be taking campaign contributions.

“That’s something I feel like I’ve never heard about from a candidate,” Berdiago said, adding that Bloomberg’s decision gives him a reason to research his platform.

– Melissa Gomez

~~~

I just want a candidate who’s going to win

Archie Mendoza, 50, Santa Clarita

Archie Mendoza of Santa Clarita

(Melissa Gomez / Los Angeles Times)

Archie Mendoza was a registered Republican for about 25 years. Now, the Santa Clarita resident said, he is “disgusted” with the Republican Party and by elected officials making excuses for Trump. Mendoza, 50, is now an independent.

The real estate agent said the last Republican presidential candidate he voted for was George H.W. Bush. Next year, he will vote for anyone who can beat Trump, he said. “I just want a candidate who’s going to win.”

For a while, Mendoza said, he believed that was Biden, until the former vice president’s campaign took hits from Trump and didn’t return them. The progressive candidates have gone too far left, Mendoza said.

Bloomberg helped transform New York while he was mayor, Mendoza said. The mayor’s stop-and-frisk directive was a problem, he said, but he credited Bloomberg for at least addressing crime in the city.

“He’s good. I’m interested to see what he does,” Mendoza said. “He can go toe to toe with Trump, I believe it.”

– Melissa Gomez

~~~

I’m not very interested in Michael Bloomberg as a candidate

Zane Lowry, 27, Culver City

Zane Lowry in Culver City.

(Melanie Mason / Los Angeles Times)

Zane Lowry and James Smith sipped coffee drinks from oversized mugs outside the Conservatory coffee shop in Culver City. They share progressive politics — both are not registered with a political party, voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary and are leaning toward backing Sanders or Warren next year.

Lowry said he was aware Bloomberg was flirting with a run, but hadn’t heard that he had officially jumped in.

“I’d imagine that he’s bigger on the East Coast, being from New York and everything,” Lowry said. “But I don’t know a whole lot about him, and I’ve also heard of him being discussed as one of the more moderate candidates in this race, trying to fill a vacuum left by Biden defectors. Personally, I’m not very interested.”

Smith was skeptical about Bloomberg’s self-funding pitch.

“Honestly, the way he’s jumped in and the language he’s used has sounded a lot like Trump’s campaign in 2016. That was the exact campaign that Trump ran on — he was going to spend his own money, he wasn’t going to take a salary, he was going to donate his salary,” Smith said. Trump, who has a fraction of Bloomberg’s wealth, ultimately did not self-fund his campaign.

He said he was not impressed with Bloomberg’s decision to jump in so late in the game.

“It really didn’t sound too genuine for me,” he said. “The language that he’s used has been primarily, ‘We just need to beat Trump, we need to beat Trump.’ That’s not my only agenda.”

– Melanie Mason

~~~

I don’t know much about him. I just know that he’s a smart guy who knows how to make money, that he is really clever in making money

Fariba Beighlie, Seal Beach

Fariba Beighlie of Seal Beach

(Seema Mehta / Los Angeles Times)

Seal Beach architect Fariba Beighlie is an ardent supporter of Warren.

“I like everything about her. She’s strong. She’s well educated. She’s compassionate,” said Beighlie, who said she is in her 50s. “And I think she stands a good chance.”

She doesn’t think the rest of the field is strong enough to compete with Trump. She has heard about Bloomberg entering the race, but said she doesn’t know much about him.

“I just know that he’s a smart guy who knows how to make money. … I don’t know if he can represent everybody. I want somebody who’s more of a human, more in touch.”

She was thrilled, however, to hear that he would not accept donations.

“I think that’s awesome. And he can do it, he has the money to do it. He can probably get the votes,” she said. “If it comes to the point that I have to choose him over Elizabeth to make sure we get elected, as Democrats, then I would choose him.”

– Seema Mehta

~~~

If everybody’s a billionaire running, does it really matter?

Daniel Pearce, 20, Yucaipa

The news of Bloomberg entering the race came as a surprise to Daniel Pearce, 20, of Yucaipa, Calif.

Largely because Bloomberg’s existence was a surprise to Pearce.

“Never heard of him,” said Pearce, a college student and retail worker, as he hung out in the Galleria at Tyler mall in Riverside. “I know that sounds bad.”

This will be Pearce’s first time voting in a presidential election, and he plans to vote in the Democratic primary, though he hasn’t been paying close attention yet. He didn’t see any of Bloomberg’s massive ad buy because he doesn’t watch TV, and he didn’t like learning Bloomberg is 77 years old — “People don’t like to vote for somebody who’s not peak health.”

But the billionaire thing doesn’t necessarily bother him, as long as Bloomberg donates his money to causes Pearce supports, such as gun control and protecting the environment — “as long as they’re using their money for more than just themselves.”

Kristen Linares, 20, a college student from Yucaipa hanging out with Pearce who is currently interested in Harris, Warren and Sanders, said the wealth of “Bloomfield” or Steyer didn’t bother her, and she was pleased to learn about their large contributions to liberal causes.

“That is something important to me,” said Linares, whose top issues are gun control and climate change.

Pearce agreed. The big political spending “wouldn’t be the thing that makes us not for him,” Pearce said, adding, “If everybody’s a billionaire running, does it really matter?”

– Matt Pearce

~~~

I don’t like the idea of someone buying the presidency or the nomination, but it’s so important that [Trump] be defeated that I would bend my morals and my ethics in order to see that happen.

David Hauschild, 75, Minneapolis

Reese Norby, Abby Gonzalez, Marissa Norby, David Hauschild, Lois Hauschild, Kristen Norby and Andrew Hauschild.

(Melanie Mason / Los Angeles Times)

Members of the Hauschild and Norby families — most in town from Minnesota and Virginia and happily soaking up the Culver City sun — were eager to delve into politics during a morning coffee outing.

Lois Hauschild said she was following the presidential primary “very closely,” as her relatives laughed in agreement. “Every day. It’s like overload. I used to not to be into politics, but now since Trump has destroyed us, I’m into it every day.”

The family said they were well aware there was a new entrant in the race.

“I think he’s a centrist,” said Kristen Norby, reciting what she knew about Bloomberg. “Billionaire. I think he can stick it to Trump a little bit too. I think he can compete on the same level with Trump.”

“He said he would spend whatever it takes,” chimed in her father, David Hauschild. “If it’s successful, I like it. I don’t like the idea of someone buying the presidency or the nomination, but it’s so important that this man be defeated that I would bend my morals and my ethics in order to see that happen.”

But the family wasn’t ready to pronounce that Bloomberg would be the best positioned to beat Trump. “I don’t think we know enough about his stance on things,” Kristen Norby said.

But Bloomberg, like other septuagenarian candidates, will have to contend with his age weighing on the minds of voters, the family said.

“It’s important. Very important,” David Hauschild said. “Whatever age someone is today, they’re going to be at least five years older before they finish their term if they’re elected. That would make them one of, if not the oldest, president serving. And by the way, I’m elderly too. I’m not prejudiced against elderly people. But the rule of averages….”

Reese Norby, youngest in the group at 19, said, “For me, I can relate to Pete [Buttigieg, age 37] more than I can relate to Biden,” who is 77.

“The elderly?” California relative Andrew Hauschild suggested. “The elderly,” Reese repeated in agreement.

– Melanie Mason

~~~

He’s just a rich guy trying to buy his way into the White House.

Rey Camoras, 52, San Diego

Rey Camoras of San Diego

(Michael Finnegan / Los Angeles Times)

Rey Camoras, 52, a San Diego software developer, was visiting downtown L.A. on Tuesday morning while his wife was at a medical appointment. Camoras is an independent who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is leaning toward Warren or Buttigieg in 2020. Camoras is looking for a candidate “who is rational, non-impulsive, not corrupt.”

Camoras is familiar with Bloomberg’s record, and he won’t vote for him, “mostly because of his racist stop-and-frisk program that he expanded in New York City.”

“It didn’t really affect the crime rate,” he said. “All it did was make the lives of people of color more difficult in the city.”

Bloomberg reminds Camoras of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who flirted with the idea of running for president.

“He’s just a rich guy trying to buy his way into the White House,” Camoras said of Bloomberg. And he’s turned off by the candidate’s age: “That’s probably too old.”

Camoras does appreciate Bloomberg’s spending on gun control and the fight against climate change, both mentioned in a Bloomberg ad he saw Monday night. “That’s important, but it wouldn’t get me to vote for him,” he said.

– Michael Finnegan

~~~

Choice is a really good thing, but when you’re trying to settle down to a candidate that will run against Trump, it’s almost too much now.

John Cook, Ventura

John Cook of Ventura, with Finnegan.

(Melissa Gomez / Los Angeles Times)

“Choice is a really good thing, but when you’re trying to settle down to a candidate that will run against Trump, it’s almost too much now,” said Ventura Democrat John Cook said of the Democratic primary field as he took his dog, Finnegan, out for a walk Tuesday.

Cook said he knew of Bloomberg as a former mayor and his support for a soda tax. But he said Bloomberg choosing to self-finance his campaign worried him. “Money in politics concerns me in a huge way,” he said.

Bloomberg’s age also concerns him, Cook said, the same with Sanders, now 78, whom he supported in the 2016 primary. But he said he’s willing to look into Bloomberg by examining his policies and talking to his friends in New York about his time as mayor. “I have to do more studying.”

– Melissa Gomez

~~~

We need someone who can stand up and say, ‘Maybe what I did last week didn’t work… Here’s what we need to do to get it right.’

Todd Covington, 38, Long Beach

Todd Covington of Long Beach

(Tyrone Beason / Los Angeles Times)

Todd Covington lived in New York during part of Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor and doesn’t have fond memories of his leadership.

“Everything was a mess,” Covington said, recalling what he described as Bloomberg’s tepid response to a work-stoppage among city workers that left New York’s streets poorly tended after a particularly bad snowstorm.

“He’s not available and he’s not accountable,” the chiropractor said. “We need someone who can stand up and say, ‘Maybe what I did last week didn’t work… Here’s what we need to do to get it right.’”

Now Covington lives in Long Beach, and he talked about the Democratic field during his weekly visit to Sip & Sonder coffeehouse on Inglewood’s historic main strip.

He could be open to voting for Bloomberg if the former mayor ran a transparent campaign and vowed to hold himself more answerable as president — and if he championed issues such as prison and education reform.

But Covington, 38, feels uneasy about Democrats’ prospects for defeating Trump. “They lack one common voice,” he said.

– Tyrone Beason

~~~

What I worry about Bloomberg, he was previously a Republican.

Michael Muir, 60, San Diego

Michael Muir of San Diego

The Democratic field did not need another billionaire to jump into the race, said Michael Muir of San Diego.

“We already have a billionaire [running], Tom Steyer, and he’s a very good philanthropist, and he’s done a lot,” said Muir, 60, a retired construction worker now in sales. “What I worry about Bloomberg, he was previously a Republican.”

One thing that does not concern Muir about Bloomberg: his age.

“He’s a wiser old fellow,” Muir said. “If someone takes care of themselves, they’re still sharp, I don’t see a problem with that.”

– Celina Tebor and Hafsa Fathima

~~~

I’m not impressed right at the moment.

Esther Brombart, 70, of San Diego

Retired preschool teacher Esther Brombart said she believes Warren is the best candidate to represent and work for the people.

“I just think that she is down to earth,” said Brombart, a San Diego resident who was walking around downtown Ventura with her family on Tuesday.

She doesn’t think as much of Bloomberg. “I’m not impressed right at the moment.”

The 70-year-old said she would research his platform to see what kind of candidate he would be, but she believes Bloomberg is wasting his money on his campaign.

“I just wish his money would go to help the poor, the homeless, the hungry,” she said.

– Melissa Gomez

Say what you’re going to do, and do what you said you were going to do.

Ben Garcia, 53, Azusa

Ben Garcia of Azusa

(Michael Finnegan / Los Angeles Times)

Ben Garcia of Azusa stopped to eat a persimmon Tuesday on a bench across from the Angels Flight funicular in downtown L.A. Garcia, 53, an administrator at the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office, is a political independent who has not made up his mind on a 2020 presidential candidate, but he won’t support Trump. He voted in 2016 for a third-party candidate, but can’t remember which one.

The Navy veteran has heard very little about Bloomberg, but is open to supporting him once he finds out more; he doesn’t see Bloomberg’s spending as disqualifying.

“Now the naysayers are claiming he shouldn’t be able to buy the presidency.” Garcia is skeptical. “Says who? The guy who’s already in the race trying to win the presidency?”

As for Bloomberg’s age, Garcia said: “It concerns me, his age, but I think our median age is going up exponentially as we go on. If he’s still upright, if he still moves, he still has the mobility, let him take it.”

– Michael Finnegan

~~~

There’s a lot of truth coming from both sides

Christopher Macy, 65, Berkeley

Christopher Macy

(Jeff Bercovici / Los Angeles Times)

“There’s something very insidious about most of this billionaire class,” said Christopher Macy, 65.

Macy was on a walk through downtown Berkeley with his border collie mix, Daisy, and had stopped to examine a house. He thought he might offer to repair its broken garage door if he could rent the garage to use for his home-repair business.

An independent who voted for Stein in 2016, Macy has been following this election cycle closely.

“I think the Earth is at stake. There’s a great silver lining with Trump to make a big change because he is sort of showing the level of corruption that already exists, because he’s so blatant about it.”

Protecting the environment and preserving democracy, at home and abroad, are Macy’s top concerns. Although he leans toward supporting Sanders now, that doesn’t mean Bloomberg’s billionaire status is disqualifying to Macy, who has also been impressed by Steyer and Gabbard.

“Mainstream Democrats are really selling us out, and there’s an opportunity to move beyond that entrenched power,” he said.

– Jeff Bercovici

~~~

I wouldn’t vote for him over Bernie or Elizabeth.

Catherine Schoenherr of Ventura

Catherine Schoenherr of Ventura said she knew Bloomberg had entered the race, but he isn’t a candidate she would support.

She plans to back Sanders in the primary. “He’s had the same message unwaveringly for what, 30, 40 years. I really admire that,” the Democrat said.

Bloomberg’s status as a billionaire isn’t disqualifying, she said, but it comes down to his policies. She said she did not like that he backed the stop-and-frisk mandate in New York City, which she called “horrible.”

“I understand people can change,” she said of Bloomberg apologizing for the policing strategy, which disproportionately affected people of color. But she found the timing of his apology suspect.

“I know enough to know I won’t support him,” she said. “I wouldn’t vote for him over Bernie or Elizabeth.”

– Melissa Gomez

It’s not really a plus for me.

Sabina Mahavni, 19, Berkeley

Sabina Mahavni of Berkeley

(Jeff Bercovici / Los Angeles TImes)

As an environmental economics major planning a career in environmental law, UC Berkeley sophomore Sabina Mahavni, 19, expects to cast her first vote for Sanders in California’s primary.

Mahavni does not know much about Bloomberg’s background or positions, she said during a break from her shift at the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Having gone through active-shooter drills as a high school student in Granite Bay, Calif., she was glad to hear the three-term New York mayor had spent some of his wealth pushing gun control legislation

But that wealth itself is cause for skepticism in her eyes, even if it allows him to turn down money from special interests.

“I’m all in favor of not taking any campaign contributions, but I do have a little issue, maybe an internal bias, against billionaires, just in terms of the way they made their money in corporate America,” she said. “So it’s not really a plus for me.”

– Jeff Bercovici



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