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Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg makes his first presidential campaign trip Wednesday in California, a state where few people support his White House run, many don’t know who he is, and those who do think little of him.

The 77-year-old billionaire publisher is going to try to change those impressions with an endorsement Wednesday from up-and-coming Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, an appearance with former Gov. Jerry Brown in San Francisco, and $14 million of TV ads that are ready to saturate California’s airwaves through the rest of the year, The Chronicle has learned.

Tubbs was ready to endorse California Sen. Kamala Harris until she dropped out of the race last week. He told The Chronicle that he’s endorsing Bloomberg, whom he has known for several years, because “top of mind, we have to beat Donald Trump and preserve democracy.” The two will appear together Wednesday morning in Stockton.

Tubbs said he had concerns about Bloomberg’s support for stop-and-frisk police policies during his 12-year tenure as New York mayor. Days before Bloomberg said he would seek the Democratic nomination last month, he apologized at a Brooklyn church for his support of the policy that disproportionately affected African Americans and Latinos.

“I was wrong,” Bloomberg told the predominantly African American congregation. “And I am sorry.”

Tubbs said that for people like him, a 29-year-old African American man, “stop and frisk is terrible.” He recalls having “a spirited discussion” about it with Bloomberg when they were seated together at an event. But he said he was satisfied with Bloomberg’s apology.

“That’s a sign of a good leader,” said Tubbs, who has signed on as a national co-chair of Bloomberg’s campaign. “I’m sure the mayor will put forth policies that will reflect his new criminal justice perspective.”

Other candidates have problems on criminal justice issues, Tubbs said.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called former Vice President Joe Biden the “architect of mass incarceration” for his support of a 1994 crime bill toughening sentences for many federal crimes. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also voted for the measure while in the House. Biden has retorted that when Booker was mayor of Newark, N.J., police detained blacks at twice the rate of whites.

Tubbs praised Bloomberg for making Stockton his first California stop. The city has a host of challenges, starting with a 22% poverty rate. On Wednesday, Bloomberg will call for expanding the earned income tax credit, which helps the lowest-income workers, and for paying the benefit monthly instead of annually.

He will also call for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 by 2025 and for tying further increases to the growth in median salaries.

Stockton is also conducting a widely watched experiment on universal basic income. Since February, 130 families have been receiving $500 a month in a privately funded program. It is similar to one supported by presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who supports giving every U.S. citizen $1,000 a month for life.

A spokesman declined to say whether Bloomberg supported universal basic income, “but I can tell you that Mike very much admires Mayor Tubbs’ willingness to experiment and innovate — it’s exactly why Tubbs is so successful in Stockton.”

Later Wednesday, Bloomberg is scheduled to appear with Brown on stage at the American Geophysical Union convention in San Francisco. Brown will not endorse Bloomberg, but they will talk about climate change — an issue close to both as co-chairs of America’s Pledge, under which governments and businesses commit to reduce their carbon output. Bloomberg and Brown started the project in 2017 after President Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.

Bloomberg will need the star power of Brown and Tubbs, as early polls indicate most California Democrats know little about him.

Bloomberg is the first choice of only 2% of the state’s likely Democratic voters, according to a poll released last week by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. Only 8% of respondents said they were even considering voting for him. Forty percent said they had a negative impression of Bloomberg, and 45% had no opinion at all.

“No ballots have gone out yet in the state of California,” Brynne Craig, a senior campaign adviser, told The Chronicle. “Mike is introducing himself, his vision for the country. Folks aren’t voting yet.”

Bloomberg plans to have several offices across California and has already started hiring top staff. Most important, he will spend $14 million on TV ads through the rest of the year in the state’s major media markets. Bloomberg has pledged to spend $100 million nationally through the end of the year, many times more than what the leading Democratic candidates have spent combined.

Historically, California has been a political graveyard for wealthy self-funding candidates — including 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, whom Bloomberg endorsed.

Last week Bloomberg told a gathering of Texas Democrats he would address “the elephant in the room.”

“I realize that some people may say, ‘Do we really want a general election between two New York billionaires?’ To which I say, ‘Who’s the other one?’ If ever there was someone who was all hat and no cattle, it’s Donald Trump.”

Joe Garofoli is The San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political writer. Email: jgarofoli@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @joegarofoli



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