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Wednesday February 19th, 2020 11:11PM

Bloomberg to speak at voting rights summit hosted by Abrams

By The Associated Press
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Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is appearing privately at a voting rights summit hosted Friday by high-profile Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams.

The billionaire former mayor of New York City already has donated $5 million to the voting rights political action organization Abrams launched after her narrow defeat in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race.

Abrams would have become the first black woman elected governor of a U.S. state. But even in defeat she emerged as a national Democratic player, evidenced by her invitation to deliver the party’s response to President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union and the subsequent parade of presidential candidates who have paid her visits.

Her name is among those commonly bandied about as a potential vice presidential candidate for Democrats once the party settles on a nominee. That speculation almost certainly would intensify if Democrats nominate a white male, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg or Bloomberg.

The summit Friday, including Bloomberg’s speech, isn’t open to the public, but coincides with Bloomberg releasing policy proposals he says will ensure fair ballot access in U.S. elections. Abrams and Bloomberg are expected to meet one-on-one, as well. Bloomberg is running a strategy unique to presidential politics, bypassing the traditional four early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. He's concentrating instead on the states that follow in March. Georgia holds its primary on March 24, three weeks after Super Tuesday. After he appears at Abrams' event, Bloomberg is scheduled to address his supporters elsewhere in Atlanta to launch his 2020 Georgia campaign. Abrams’ summit comes days after the Fair Fight political action committee disclosed that it raised almost $15 million in the first half of 2019, with Bloomberg’s contribution making up a third of that.

Bloomberg’s team bills the encounter as a continuation of the former mayor’s advocacy on voting rights. Since leaving New York City Hall in 2013, Bloomberg has spent millions of his own money on various political causes, perhaps most conspicuously in favor of stricter gun laws.

Abrams launched the Fair Fight committee out of her gubernatorial campaign after alleging that voting irregularities helped prevent her from forcing a runoff against now-Gov. Brian Kemp, who’d been the Republican secretary of state who oversaw their election. Fair Fight has an ongoing federal legal battle challenging aspects of Georgia’s election system.

Besides Bloomberg, attendees at the summit today are expected to hear from Abrams, representatives from the Democratic National Committee and leaders of organized labor.

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