South Carolina mayor ready to back Bloomberg for president

FILE - Michael Bloomberg attends the 2019 Hudson River Park Gala at Cipriani South Street in New York City.

If he opts to enter the Democratic presidential primary, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg will get one of South Carolina’s most-coveted endorsements.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin tells The Associated Press on Monday he’s ready to back Bloomberg if he runs for president.

Benjamin recently finished a term as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an organization through which he got to know Bloomberg well.

First elected in 2010, Benjamin has met with nearly all of the Democratic hopefuls, offering advice as they wind their way through South Carolina, home to the first southern primary next year. He is one of the state’s highest-profile black politicians and was among the candidates considered for Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016.

Bloomberg on Sunday apologized for his longstanding support of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police strategy ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, a practice that he embraced as New York’s mayor and continued to defend despite its disproportionate impact on people of color.