Two Jewish House members endorse Bloomberg after debate shellacking

Democratic representatives Lowey and Gottheimer back billionaire candidate after he takes a beating from rivals, signalling still strong support within party apparatus

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks at a campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, February 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks at a campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, February 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WASHINGTON —  Two prominent Jewish Democratic members of Congress endorsed Michael Bloomberg for president Thursday, one day after he took a beating in his debate debut for the Democratic primary.

Veteran New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who is chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer announced their support of the former New York City mayor Thursday. The endorsements may signal that Bloomberg maintains strong party ties despite intense attacks from his rivals.

“Democrats need a candidate at the top of the ticket who can win,” said Gottheimer in a statement. “As he demonstrated as an entrepreneur and mayor, Mike is a proven problem solver. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and knows that you’ll never make lasting progress with scorched earth tweets, nasty personal attacks, or an all-or-nothing extremist approach to governing.”

Bloomberg, a former Republican, is seen as a moderate and his polling numbers had been rising as former vice president Joe Biden, another mainline candidate, has slumped in recent weeks.

Both Lowey and Gottheimer are known as moderate Democrats. In an interview with The Times of Israel last November, Lowey said she was inclined to support Biden but was waiting to make an endorsement.

California Congressman Pete Aguilar also endorsed the billionaire businessman on Thursday.

US House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat from New York, delivers opening remarks before hearing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testify before the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs subcommittee about his department’s 2020 budget request, on March 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

All three have histories and connections with Bloomberg. Gottheimer’s brother in law, Bradley Tusk, is the philanthropist’s campaign manager. And Lowey’s former chief of staff, Howard Wolfson, is now a top adviser to his campaign.

Bloomberg now has total of 15 congressional endorsements, putting him behind only Biden, who has more than three times that amount.

On Wednesday night, Bloomberg’s five Democratic rivals pounced on the former mayor’s record on policing, treatment of women and support for workers.

At a debate in Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, multiple candidates attacked him 45 times, according to NBC News’ “Attack Tracker.”

That was more than twice the number of attacks made on Sanders, the second-most attacked candidate.

Many of those criticisms were of his support for stop-and-frisk measures as New York City mayor that disproportionately impacted communities of color and for alleged sexist comments he made degrading women who worked for his company.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” said Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. “A billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,’ and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

Several of his competitors called for him to release women who worked for him from non-disclosure agreements prohibit both parties from discussing certain information.

“None of them accused me of anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg said at one point. “They signed the agreements, and that’s what we’re going to live with.”

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