Bernie Sanders adds staff, opens offices in Michigan

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is boosting his investment in Michigan by adding staff and opening five field offices, his campaign said Tuesday, three weeks before the state's March 10 primary.

In 2016, Sanders scored an upset victory in Michigan's primary, beating Hillary Clinton by 1.4 percentage points. Sanders is making moves to try to win the state again in 2020 but he's facing a crowded field of opponents and heavy spending on TV ads here by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Cass Tech High School in Detroit on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.

Sanders' campaign announced it's opening offices this week in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids. It's also hired a state coordinator, a state field director, four regional field directors and four field organizers, according to a press release, which came a week after Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire primary.

“With the operation we're building in Michigan, Bernie Sanders will not only win the primary, but he will also be the only candidate with the energy and enthusiasm to flip this state back and defeat Donald Trump,” said Michael Fasullo, the campaign's new Michigan state coordinator.

The Sanders campaign will hold events to celebrate its new offices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Detroit office opening will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at 15920 Grand River Ave. The Dearborn office opening will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday at 5070 Schaefer Road.

The self-declared democratic socialist joins Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Bloomberg in making the largest early investments in Michigan. Warren's campaign opened an office in Detroit in December. Bloomberg's campaign has already opened eight field offices in Michigan and aired more than $7 million in TV advertisements in the state.

Sanders last visited Michigan on Oct. 27 when he spoke in Detroit and received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit.

In head-to-head polling match-ups, Sanders was behind Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden in their leads over President Donald Trump in Michigan but ahead of Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to a Jan. 3-7 survey of 600 likely Michigan voters by the Lansing-based Glengariff Group.

In response to Sanders' announcement, Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Joyce said Michigan Republicans have "an unprecedented ground and data game working to re-elect President Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot."