Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire business media mogul and former New York mayor, again is considering an entry into the Democratic presidential race — something that could alter the dynamics of the primary just a few months before voting begins.
Bloomberg, 77, plans to file paperwork to enter the presidential primary in Alabama, The New York Times reported. The state has an early filing deadline.
Howard Wolfson, a consultant to Bloomberg’s foundation, wrote on Twitter that “Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned” to take on President Donald Trump.
“If Mike runs he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist,” he added. “Based on his record of accomplishment, leadership and his ability to bring people together to drive change, Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win.”
If Bloomberg were to go forward, he likely would run a center-left presidential campaign and could pose a challenge to former Vice President Joe Biden, who also is running as a more moderate candidate to more leftward front-runners Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Were Bloomberg to enter the campaign, there also is the question of what would happen to Bloomberg LP, his media and financial empire. He stepped away from the company when he was mayor of New York but rejoined it in 2014 as president and CEO. A spokeswoman for Bloomberg declined to comment.
Mathew Littman, a political consultant who has worked on a number of campaigns and is supporting Kamala Harris, said that Bloomberg’s potential entry into the race shows that “it is clear that he feels Bernie or Warren could do this, and he does not see a great alternative coming to the forefront.”
He credited Bloomberg for the recent success that his gun reform group, Everytown, had in driving turnout in Virginia on Tuesday. Democrats flipped both chambers of the state legislature.
Littman said that a Bloomberg candidacy also would pose a challenge to Biden’s campaign.
“If Bloomberg thought Biden could coast to victory, he wouldn’t be doing this,” he said.
Bloomberg has considered presidential bids before, including as an independent in 2008 and 2016. His team even created a campaign ad before he ultimately decided against running in 2016. Instead, he spoke at the Democratic National Convention, delivering a blistering speech against then-GOP nominee Trump.
Bloomberg registered as a Democrat last year, triggering speculation that he would enter the presidential race. But he announced in March that he had decided not to run.
One major Hollywood donor said that in publicly declaring that he may get in the race, Bloomberg was creating a “placeholder” to leave open the possibility of a campaign if it looks like Warren would win the nomination or if Biden falters. That has been a concern among a number of more moderate industry donors, who fear that Biden will place third or even fourth in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary before the South Carolina primary, which is one of his strongholds.
As much as Bloomberg may position himself as a consensus choice for the party’s moderate wing, there’s also the chance that his entry would have the effect of further slicing that share of the electorate. Moreover, he would enter as the second billionaire to enter the race, next to Tom Steyer, as so many of the other candidates are targeting the upper income strata to pay more in taxes.
In his recent book, Ride of a Lifetime, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger wrote that he considered a presidential bid but “was skeptical of the Democratic Party’s willingness and ability to support a successful business person.”
Martin Kaplan, the founding director of the Norman Lear Center at USC, said that Bloomberg “fits the profile of what people are saying is lacking, which is to say a moderate who doesn’t have the broken crockery or the programs and proposals which can immediately trip up a candidacy.”
Trump’s team certainly will try. Within an hour of the news that Bloomberg was considering a run, the Republican National Committee was up with a “cheat sheet” hammering the former New York mayor for his support for gun reform measures and for “regulating everything from soft drink size to Styrofoam.” They even came up with a Trumpist nickname: The Nanny.
Warren welcomed Bloomberg to the race with an invitation to her “calculator for billionaires” — to determine how much they would pay under her “ultra-millionaire tax.” For Bloomberg, it is $3.079 billion.
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