Tennessee could play key role in presidential primary

Tennessee could play key role in presidential primary

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Early voting started Wednesday in Tennessee for the March 3rd election, also known as Super Tuesday.

One-third of all delegates in the Democratic presidential primary will be up for grabs, and while candidates are spending most of their time in other states ahead of Super Tuesday, that's likely to change soon.

One candidate, in particular, is banking big on a victory.

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is not competing in early primary and caucus states. Instead, he is targeting voters in Super Tuesday states like Tennessee.

Federal election records show Bloomberg has spent more than $250 million so far.

"We've never had a candidate for president with as much money as Michael Bloomberg, who was as willing to spend a lot of that money," said WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson.

Bloomberg mentioned his spending spree during a campaign event in Memphis in December.

"Somebody said to me the other day 'You're spending a lot of money.' I said 'Yes, I'm making an investment to replace Donald Trump and it's the best investment I could make,'" said Bloomberg.

Nelson says Bloomberg's bet could pay off since there doesn't appear to be a clear frontrunner.

"I think that I think the fact that Biden has not done well, that a number of candidates are sort of splitting the Democratic primary vote among themselves," said Nelson.

Bloomberg's spending doesn't appear to be slowing down.

He just opened a new field office in Memphis.

WMC Action News 5 found workers there Wednesday unpacking new campaign merchandise and training volunteers.

"Bloomberg's gamble, was that he didn't have to enter any of these early contests, that by the time it got to Super Tuesday the Democratic field would be in such disarray, that people would be ready to turn to somebody new," said Nelson.

Shelby County elections administrator Linda Phillips says, unlike other elections, history shows voters don't make up their minds until the last minute, and most vote on the day of the presidential primary election.

"An awful lot of voters, particularly those who will pick a Democratic primary ballot, wait until closer to election day to vote because, well, the field is changing daily," said Phillips.

While Bloomberg has spent the most money by far, other campaigns will likely start to increase their spending in Tennessee and Arkansas, which is also a Super Tuesday state.

Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, has now joined Bloomberg in airing ads in the Memphis market.

There are 25 early voting locations in Shelby County.

To find a location nearest you, or to see a sample ballot, click here

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