NewsLocal NewsKent


West Michigan garners early attention from Democratic candidates

Sanders, Bloomberg open offices in Grand Rapids ahead of primary
Posted at 10:49 PM, Feb 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 05:14:43-05

The Michigan primary is a couple weeks away, and as voters get ready to hit the polls, the Democratic presidential hopefuls are ramping up their efforts.

Candidates are focusing on South Carolina and Super Tuesday, where ballots will be cast in 14 states, but Michigan is already garnering a lot of attention.

Right now, a few campaigns are building their efforts to get in the ears of Kent County voters.

“Kent County, I think, in the general election is going to be key, but particularly here in the primary,” said Evan Dillon, Mike Bloomberg’s campaign office field organizer.

Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg's campaign has set up shop on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, .

“We are doing thousands of calls a day, so we’re really reaching out and touching as many people as possible,” Dillon added. "The response we’ve gotten has given us a really strong feeling of how we are going to be able to do in Kent County."

Dillon says their campaign's focus is on Super Tuesday, but with the Michigan primary a week after that, they want to make sure they have a strong presence here.

“The way the campaign looks at it, there’s a very good chance that after Super Tuesday this will be a two horse race, between Senator Sanders and Mayor Bloomberg,” Dillon explained.

“This county was won by Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly, 64 to 36 over Hillary, but I don’t think that’s really representative of how it is right now,” he added.

“I don’t think it’s any different than 2016,” Sanders campaign volunteer Debra Sachek said.

Less than a half mile away on Wealthy Street, spirits are high in Bernie Sanders' Grand Rapids campaign office, which opened up a few days ago.

Supporters are hoping for a long stretch of victories after the Vermont senator scored back-to-back wins in New Hampshire and Nevada.

“We are trying to get to as many doors as we possibly can until the primary,” Sachek added. "The campaign knocked on 11,000 doors [Saturday], and we will do so every day until the March primary."

Campaigns for both former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren have organized canvassers in the area but don’t have local offices at this time.