Bloomberg pitches real estate execs at NYC campaign HQ

Former New York mayor said he won’t take donations from big-money figures

Rudin Management Company's Bill Rudin, Blackstone's Jonathan Gray and Mike Bloomberg (Credit: Getty Images)
Rudin Management Company's Bill Rudin, Blackstone's Jonathan Gray and Mike Bloomberg (Credit: Getty Images)

At a breakfast meeting in New York City on Dec. 19, Michael Bloomberg made his pitch.

An assortment of real estate power brokers were there to hear him out, including Jon Gray, Bill Rudin and Jerry Speyer.

According to CNBC, Bloomberg used the opportunity to urge financiers at the meeting to donate to the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties, and to galvanise their networks to do the same. His aids, meanwhile, emphasized the states they planned to win in order to secure the nomination and defeat Donald Trump at the election.

Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were reportedly highlighted as states Bloomberg could secure in the primary.

“The path is to do 24/7 ads, both pro-Bloomberg and anti-Trump, and to be on the ground in all of the Super Tuesday states well before the other candidates,” one of the 90 attendees told CNBC, speaking anonymously.

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Other heavy hitters present at the meeting included Wharton & Garrison chairman Brad Karp and Kathy Chenault, the wife of former American Express CEO Ken Chenault. Many reportedly left feeling positive about Bloomberg’s strategy.

Bloomberg’s outreach to major Democratic donors is an effort to rally their support and networking capability, rather than their funds. (Bloomberg, who has a net worth valued at over $56 billion, has pledged to finance his own campaign.)

“Mike made the case to a large, diverse group of politically active New Yorkers for, one, why he can win the nomination and is the candidate best positioned to defeat Donald Trump and two, why we want them to contribute to the Democratic Party across the country to help eliminate the financial advantage Trump and the Republicans have nationally,” said Marc LaVorgna, a campaign spokesman.

Bloomberg knows the real estate figures well. Two of the three – Speyer and Rudin – are former chairs of the Real Estate Board of New York. And Speyer was in the driver’s seat when his firm and BlackRock bought Stuyvesant Town for $5.4 billion. Bloomberg didn’t block the sale, even though many residents of the middle-class development opposed the takeover, rightly fearing displacement. (In 2015, five years after Tishman Speyer surrendered the property, Gray’s Blackstone’s swooped in and bought the complex for $5.3 billion. Bill de Blasio had replaced Bloomberg as mayor by then.)

As The Real Deal previously reported, Bloomberg’s record as a pro-development mayor is likely to attract criticism from candidates on the left. During his tenure as mayor, 40,000 buildings went up, 120 rezonings were enacted and megaprojects such as Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards were green-lit. At the same time, homelessness increased and inequality widened.

A latecomer to the crowded field of Democratic candidates, Bloomberg is currently polling fifth, according to Real Clear Politics. Former vice president Joe Biden is in the lead, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg. [CNBC] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan