Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is opening a Duluth field office, while leveraging his billionaire status to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on television and radio advertisements in the area.
The new office, as well as those located in St. Paul, Rochester and St. Anthony in Minnesota and Fargo-Moorhead, will open over the next several days, according to a news release from Bloomberg's campaign. He's the only candidate with a field office in Duluth, and the only one to secure TV and radio ads.
The move to Duluth signals that Bloomberg is going to contest the state, said Cynthia Rugeley, department head of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
"It sends a message that the candidate cares about (the voter). And that has a meaning. That does matter," Rugeley said. People are more likely to vote when they're asked to do so, which the field office may work to do.
The office also helps Bloomberg appeal to the surrounding areas, like the Iron Range, North Shore and next-door neighbor Wisconsin — which is poised to be a battleground state.
"I wouldn’t be surprised if we ... see him come through here," Rugeley said.
Bloomberg is also the only presidential candidate appearing in locally purchased ads on Twin Ports airwaves.
He’s bought over $674,000 in advertising on television and radio stations. With a plan to increase his advertising after uncertainty arose about Iowa caucus results, he’s well on his way to hit the million-dollar mark.
KBJR has been on the receiving end of a large majority of the spend, with the station netting over $514,000 in advertisements. That’s over three-quarters of Bloomberg’s total spend in the area.
The Bloomberg campaign’s biggest purchase came in late January, when it bought 122 spots for $73,000 on KBJR.
KBJR operates its own station, as well as the area's CBS affiliate. KBJR declined to comment on advertising business.
In total, the campaign has purchased nearly 2,500 spots across all stations, with over 97% of the spots airing on TV.
As of Friday afternoon, no other Democratic presidential candidates or Republican President Donald Trump purchased ads from Twin Ports stations, according to the filings.
The data is from a News Tribune analysis of the Federal Communications Commission's 2019-20 Public Inspection Files from six TV stations and 30 radio stations. All broadcast entities must file reports when a political entity or campaign purchases ads on their airwaves.
The Duluth office is located at 402 W. First St., Suite 101, where a grand opening will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the senior campaign adviser present. Bloomberg opened an office in Minneapolis on Jan. 23 and currently has 45 staff members across the state.
Bloomberg, 76, served three terms as the mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013. He announced a late entry into the presidential race in November.
Bloomberg, along with three other candidates, did not qualify for Friday's presidential debate in New Hampshire.
He's skipping the first four primary contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Instead, Bloomberg's campaign has committed to visiting states like Minnesota, that will vote in the primaries March 3, otherwise known as "Super Tuesday," according to the news release.
If elected, he said his top priorities would be making health care affordable, equity in public education, closing the wealth gap using "fair taxes" and employment opportunity.
Bloomberg has also promised to prevent the Chilean mining company Antofagasta from following through on its proposed Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper/nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
This article was edited at 8:13 p.m. to clarify a quote from Cynthia Rugeley. It was originally posted at 5:07 p.m.