Bloomberg unveils $40M Florida TV ad buy

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Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks during a town hall. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

09/25/2020 01:05 PM EDT

Updated 09/25/2020 01:40 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE — New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced Friday that he’s blanketing Florida airwaves with a $40 million TV ad buy, the first since he pledged to spend $100 million in the Sunshine State to defeat President Donald Trump.

The massive buy, being made through the Bloomberg-funded Independence USA PAC, comes the same week that nearly 5 million vote-by-mail ballots are being sent to Florida voters in the the start of what effectively is a month-long Election Day in the nation’s largest swing state.

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“This fall, the path to the presidency goes through Florida — and with mail-in ballots going out this week, voters will soon start deciding who gets its 29 electoral votes,” Bloomberg said in a statement to POLITICO. “That’s why we’re doing everything in our power to tell the story of Donald Trump’s failed presidency and why we need Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.”

Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, last week announced he would spend $100 million in Florida in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election. Earlier this week, he announced he was spending $16 million to help a group trying to pay off felons‘ outstanding court debts, a step required for them to regain their voting rights under Amendment 4, a measure approved by Florida voters in 2018 as a framework for felons to have their voting rights restored.

Florida Republicans on Wednesday pushed back against Bloomberg’s effort to help felons, likening it to him trying to buy votes. Attorney General Ashley Moody asked both the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Bloomberg’s effort.

Jason Schechter, a Bloomberg spokesperson, called it a “transparent political ploy.”

Bloomberg’s $40 million buy will be used to air ads daily on cable and network TV in each of Florida’s 10 media markets, according to an outline reviewed by POLITICO, with Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Fort Myers deemed “tier one” priorities.

The ads will focus on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Biden’s economic development plan.

Florida is a near must-win for Trump if he hopes to return to the White House. He defeated Hillary Clinton by just 113,000 votes in 2016, and Florida is once again expected to be a nail-biter. Biden has held a 1- to 2-point lead in most public polling, which is well within the margin of error. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Thursday had Trump ahead by 3 percentage points in the state.

Bloomberg made his own brief bid for the Democratic presidential nomination this year in an effort that focused heavily on Florida. He spent $50 million of his own personal wealth on Florida TV ads, bringing his 2020 Florida tab to $150 million.

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