FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2020, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, Okla. They are circling each other like wary boxers, with taunts on Twitter, snarky asides and belittling depictions of one another. They rose to prominence in Manhattan on parallel tracks, amassed wealth real and perceived and displayed a penchant for putting their names on things. President Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg could hardly be more different as people but now they both want the same job: Trump’s.
Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File

Bloomberg camp opens Georgia office with focus on gay rights

White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg’s campaign opened its first Georgia office in Midtown Atlanta, the heart of the city’s gay community, with a promise to put the Democrat’s recently-released LGBTQ platform at the center of his campaign. 

The former New York mayor pledged to launch new federal initiatives to combat anti-gay bullying, support anti-discrimination legislation and reinstate benefits for military members who were forced out of jobs before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies were repealed.

“We want to show this is a campaign for unity,” said Lance Orchird, the campaign’s state director. 

The Midtown operation is the first in a network of eight field offices the Bloomberg campaign plans to scatter across the state ahead of the March 24 primary, which could give the candidate the most extensive Georgia field apparatus 2020 Democratic hopeful.

Only one other candidate, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has announced plans to hire a significant number of Georgia staffers. She hired about a half-dozen Georgia-based operatives, and announced plans to place several of those staffers in metro Atlanta and Columbus. 

Orchird said Bloomberg’s campaign plans to open offices in Albany, Augusta, Macon, Savannah and several other sites around metro Atlanta over the next two months. 

Bloomberg is skipping Iowa and other early-voting states to try to make a stand in Georgia and other more populous places that vote later.

He has visited Georgia several times since launching the campaign, including an appearance last month to speak at a summit organized by Stacey Abrams and several other events aimed at winning over skeptical African-American voters. 

At Saturday’s event, Bloomberg aides pledged Georgia would be a key piece of his strategy, which depends on luring frustrated independents and Republicans who have soured on President Donald Trump. Several of his supporters echoed that theme. 

“I would have voted for him whether he was a Democrat, Republican, or Independent,” said Jay Malpani, an Atlanta resident who attended the event. 

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