Mackay likes Mike; says Knoxville will, too

Betty BeanKnox Scene

Greg Mackay is lifelong Democrat and Mike Bloomberg’s his guy.

He volunteered in Sen. Albert Gore 1968 campaign and was vice president of UT’s Campus Democrats in the early ’70s. He’s worked in a long string of local races and served on the election commission from1991-1998, was the election administrator for another eight years and ran a surprisingly strong underdog campaign for the District 18 state House seat in 2018.

So, what is it about a multi-billionaire former Republican New York City mayor that appeals to a cradle Democrat?

“I believe that elections are won in the middle,” Mackay said. “I was originally for (Montana governor) Steve Bullock, but he got out of the race and I started looking around. I looked at Bloomberg (who has fought the National Rifle Association and climate change), saw what he had done and what he is standing for, and I said, ‘That’s my guy.’”

Mike Bloomberg with Greg Mackay’s mother and daughter, Blanche Mackay and Hannah Mackay, at the local headquarters opening.

Mackay said he’s impressed by Bloomberg’s ability to collaborate “…as opposed to The Donald who doesn’t have that skill set.”

And he believes that billionaire Bloomberg, one of the richest humans on the planet, will be good for working people.

“He understands the need for some fairness in our economic model and I think he understands there are a lot of people who are working hard and just can’t seem to get ahead. He wants to see a system where everyone has health care.

So, if he’s for fairness and healthcare for all, why not pitch in with Bernie Sanders, whose frontrunner status is looking stronger all the time?

Mackay said Sanders is too vague about how to pay for his plans.

“I’ve been involved in government and business more than half my life. You just can’t have free everything. I think Bernie looks up in the sky at the way things ought to be, while guys like Bloomberg and myself, we live in the real world.”

Is he catching much criticism from his friends?

“Personally? No. Maybe it’s because this is Knoxville and we don’t talk bad to each other. I respect people’s right to make their own decisions and, in the end, everyone’s going to come around. We’re voting blue, no matter who,” he said.

Mackay, who has no official role in the Bloomberg campaign, says he can feel the momentum building for his candidate. He’s got an up-close view of its local workings, since his 21-year-old daughter, Hannah, is a Bloomberg field organizer.

“I am not a spokesman, but I see what they’re doing – door knocking, phone calling, mail outs – they’re working hard.”

Betty Bean is a veteran reporter for Knox and Sevier counties. Reach her at

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