Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s entry into the 2020 presidential race has stolen away a lot of media space from other challengers, but now he’s also taking staffers from his fellow Democratic hopefuls.
Bloomberg’s campaign announced on Wednesday that Kelly Mehlenbacher has joined the billionaire businessman’s team deputy chief operating officer. Mehlenbacher had been working on California Sen. Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign before making the jump to Bloomberg’s squad.
She had previously worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid and Mehlenbacher’s exit follows a recent staff shakeup in the Harris campaign that included layoffs amid a renewed focus on Iowa.
The hire was first reported by Politico.
Bloomberg entered the race Sunday and has begun spending tens of millions of dollars on television ads. His spending – and his personal wealth – have become early targets from his Democratic rivals.
“Michael Bloomberg is making a bet about democracy in 2020. He doesn’t need people, he only needs bags and bags of money. I think Michael Bloomberg is wrong,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren charged while campaigning in Iowa on Monday.
Bloomberg has vowed to spend at least $150 million of his own money on his bid and skip the early primary and caucus voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and instead concentrate on the delegate-rich states that hold contests on Super Tuesday and beyond.
The push back against Bloomberg is similar – but magnified -- to the criticisms of billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer, who’s spent over $50 million in media to promote his campaign since jumping into the race in July. With a vastly larger bank account than Steyer, Bloomberg’s more of a threat to the field of contenders.
While most of the top and middle tier contenders have taken aim at Bloomberg, two have remained mostly silent. The two are former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg – who may potentially have the most to lose with another center-left contender in the race.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University showed Bloomberg polling at three percent, the same number Harris and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Fox News Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.