NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Michael Bloomberg has requested a petition in Tennessee that would require securing 2,500 signatures from registered voters in less than a month if he wants to qualify for the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot, top election officials said Wednesday.
Tennessee has two ways to qualify for a presidential primary ballot: Either the secretary of state deems the candidate “nationally recognized” or candidates can submit 2,500 registered voter signatures by Dec. 3, when Secretary of State Tre Hargett will announce the list of candidates who made the Republic and Democratic ballots.
“Some roll the dice. Some candidates are confident they’ll be nationally recognized,” Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins told The Associated Press. “Others don’t take that chance.”
The secretary of state’s office confirmed that Bloomberg requested the ballot petition earlier this week. The only other candidates that requested petitions are Democrat Tom Steyer and Republicans Robert Breton Phillips and Roque De La Fuente.
The billionaire former New York City mayor is considering seeking the Democratic nomination after previously ruling out the option. Bloomberg has warned that he feels like the current field of Democratic presidential candidates won’t be able to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
He told reporters Tuesday that "we're getting closer" to making a decision while filing paperwork to appear on the Arkansas presidential primary ballot.
Bloomberg has also qualified to run on the Alabama primary ballot.
If he runs, Bloomberg plans to skip campaigning in the traditional early voting states — which offer just a small percentage of the delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination —and focus more on Super Tuesday states, which include Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama. Nearly a quarter of primary delegates are up for grabs in the March 3 Super Tuesday contests, with 73 of those coming from Tennessee. Just seven other states will have more delegates than Tennessee on Super Tuesday.
Republicans have supermajority control in Tennessee, from every congressional seat to a stronghold in both Statehouse chambers.
Hillary Clinton, whom Bloomberg endorsed at the time, won Tennessee in 2016 during the last Democratic presidential primary against rival Bernie Sanders.