Advertisement
  1. Associated Press

Bloomberg opens door to a 2020 Democratic presidential bid

“He’s a literal billionaire entering the race to keep the progressives from winning,” said Rebecca Katz
FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2019 file photo, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg answers a question during an interview with The Associated Press in Orlando, Fla. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is opening the door to a 2020 presidential campaign. Bloomberg announced earlier this year that he would not seek the Democratic nomination. But in a statement, his political adviser Howard Wolfson says Bloomberg is worried that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates is “not well positioned” to defeat President Donald Trump.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) [PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP]
Published Nov. 8

WASHINGTON — Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is opening the door to a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, warning that the current field of candidates is ill equipped to defeat President Donald Trump.

Bloomberg, who initially ruled out a 2020 run, has not made a final decision on whether to jump into the race. If he were to launch a campaign, it could dramatically reshape the Democratic contest less than three months before primary voting begins.

The 77-year-old has spent the past few weeks talking with prominent Democrats about the state of the 2020 field, expressing concerns about the steadiness of former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign and the rise of liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to people with knowledge of those discussions. In recent days, he took steps to keep his options open, including moving to get on the primary ballot in Alabama ahead of the state's Friday filing deadline.

In a statement on Thursday, Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson said the former mayor believes Trump "represents an unprecedented threat to our nation" and must be defeated.

"But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that," Wolfson said.

Bloomberg's moves come as the Democratic race enters a crucial phase. Biden's front-runner status has been vigorously challenged by Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who are flush with cash from small-dollar donors. But both are viewed by some Democrats as too liberal to win in a general election faceoff with Trump.

Despite a historically large field, some Democrats anxious about defeating Trump have been looking for other options. Former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick have quietly had conversations with supporters urging them to consider a run, but neither appears likely to get in the race.

Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent who registered as a Democrat last year, has flirted with a presidential run before but ultimately backed down, including in 2016. He endorsed Hillary Clinton in that race and, in a speech at the Democratic Party convention, pummeled Trump as a con who has oversold his business successes.

Bloomberg plunged his efforts and his money into gun control advocacy and climate change initiatives. He again looked seriously at a presidential bid earlier this year, traveling to early voting states and conducting extensive polling, but decided not to run in part because of Biden's perceived strength.

Biden did not address Bloomberg's potential candidacy at a fundraiser Thursday night in Boston.

With immense personal wealth, Bloomberg could quickly build out a robust campaign operation across the country. Still, his advisers acknowledge that his late entry to the race could make competing in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which have been blanketed by candidates for nearly a year, difficult. Instead, they previewed a strategy that would focus more heavily on the March 3 "Super Tuesday" contests, including in delegate-rich California.

Some Democrats were skeptical there would be a groundswell of interest in the former New York mayor.

"There are smart and influential people in the Democratic Party who think a candidate like Bloomberg is needed," said Jennifer Palmieri, who advised Clinton's 2016 campaign. "But there is zero evidence that rank-and-file voters in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire feel the same."

Still, others credited Bloomberg with taking on "some of America's biggest challenges" and finding success.

"While this is not an endorsement, Michael Bloomberg is a friend and I admire his track record as a successful business leader and Mayor who finds practical solutions to some of America's biggest challenges, from creating good jobs to addressing the opioid crisis and fighting for common-sense gun safety," said Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat.

Bloomberg reached out to several prominent Democrats on Thursday, including Raimondo. One Democrat Bloomberg hasn't spoken to as he's reconsidered his run is former President Barack Obama.

Bloomberg would pose an immediate ideological challenge to Biden, who is running as a moderate and hopes to appeal to independents and Republicans who have soured on Trump. But the billionaire media mogul with deep Wall Street ties could also energize supporters of Warren and Sanders, who have railed against income inequality and have vowed to ratchet up taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

"He's a literal billionaire entering the race to keep the progressives from winning," said Rebecca Katz, a New York-based liberal Democratic strategist. "He is the foil."

Warren on Thursday tweeted: "Welcome to the race, @MikeBloomberg!" and linked to her campaign website, saying he would find there "policy plans that will make a huge difference for working people and which are very popular."

Bloomberg would face other challenges as well, particularly scrutiny of his three terms as mayor. He has defended the New York Police Department's use of the controversial stop-and-frisk policy that has been criticized as targeting African Americans and Hispanics. Black voters in particular are one of the most powerful constituencies in Democratic politics.

Bloomberg will have to move quickly in the coming days and weeks to get on the ballot in many of the primary states, including Alabama. New Hampshire's filing deadline is Nov. 15.

In Arkansas, another Super Tuesday state, a Democratic Party spokesman said a person representing a "mystery candidate" reached out Thursday afternoon asking about the requirements to join the ballot. Reed Brewer, communications director for the Arkansas Democrats, said he walked the individual through the process — which simply requires filing documentation with both the state party and secretary of state, as well as paying a $2,500 fee — and was assured that the fee would be "no problem" for the mystery candidate.

There is no filing requirement for a candidate to run in the Iowa caucuses, which are a series of Democratic Party meetings, not state-run elections. It means a candidate can enter the race for the Feb. 3 leadoff contest at any time.

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Washington; Alexandra Jaffe and Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa; Michelle R. Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to this report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Earlier today• Associated Press
    A Brightline train heading from West Palm Beach to Miami pulls in Thursday afternoon at the station in Fort Lauderdale. [Emily Michot/Miami Herald]
    Brightline trains have killed more than a dozen people since 2017.
  2. DACA recipients including Greisa Martinez Rosa, right of center in red dress, and others leave the Supreme Court with their hands in the air after oral arguments were heard in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at the Supreme Court in Washington. ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    The program currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are here illegally.
  3. Smoke rises after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza early Tuesday in a resumption of pinpointed targeting that threatens a fierce round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) HATEM MOUSSA  |  AP
    The Israeli strike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife, setting off a furious barrage of Gaza-fired rockets that reached as far as the Tel Aviv
  4. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, was arrested Monday morning and charged with killing Lucky Miller at a Hilton hotel.
  5. Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting President Donald Trump, in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. JOSE LUIS MAGANA                         |  AP
    House committees will determine whether President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden’s family and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  6. Two Disney employees and a former middle school assistant principal are among the 17 accused of possessing and sharing child porn. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Polk County Sheriff’s Office charged more than 600 felony counts of child pornography possession to the 17.
  7. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. and then on to Georgia to meet with supporters. ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.
  8. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Provincial governor Gholamreza Shariati told IRNA that the drone belonged to a “foreign” country and that parts of it had been recovered in a nearby lagoon.
  9. FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2019 file photo, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg answers a question during an interview with The Associated Press in Orlando, Fla. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, is opening the door to a 2020 presidential campaign. Bloomberg announced earlier this year that he would not seek the Democratic nomination. But in a statement, his political adviser Howard Wolfson says Bloomberg is worried that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates is “not well positioned” to defeat President Donald Trump.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File) PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  AP
    “He’s a literal billionaire entering the race to keep the progressives from winning,” said Rebecca Katz
  10. This Nov. 8 booking photo shows Ibraheem Yazeed in Pensacola. Authorities have arrested the man wanted in the disappearance of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris' stepdaughter. Jail records show Yazeed was arrested in Florida and booked into the Escambia County Jail early Friday. Escambia County Jail via AP
    He’s charged with first-degree kidnapping in the disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, who was last seen at a gas station in Auburn, Alabama, on Oct. 23.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement