NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is poised to seek the Democratic presidential nomination

Bil­lion­aire media mogul and for­mer May­or of New York Michael Bloomberg is report­ed­ly prepar­ing to enter the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry with­in days.

Accord­ing to his clos­est aides, although Bloomberg has not yet made an absolute deci­sion on run­ning, he has sent staffers to Alaba­ma in order to gath­er sig­na­tures so that he can qual­i­fy for that state’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry (although it isn’t an ear­ly pri­ma­ry state, Alaba­ma has an ear­ly dead­line for entry into the race). In addi­tion, his team have begun con­tact­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic pow­er bro­kers like Gov­er­nor Gina Rai­mon­do of Rhode Island (the Chair of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion) and Har­ry Reid of Neva­da (a for­mer Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader).

Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Presidential Gun Safety forum

Michael Bloomberg speaks to gun safe­ty activists in August (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

While Bloomberg is a unique man, it is hard to see what dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures can make him stand out to vot­ers as a unique choice in the 2020 con­test: he is an old white man (like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and almost every oth­er pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in Unit­ed States his­to­ry), he is a bil­lion­aire with a pas­sion for cli­mate jus­tice (but so is Tom Stey­er) and an expe­ri­enced may­or (as are Pete Buttigieg and for­mer can­di­date Bill de Bla­sio, the cur­rent may­or of New York.)

Bloomberg seemed to rec­og­nize he did­n’t bring any­thing to a crowd­ed field in March of this year, when he defin­i­tive­ly declared that he would not be run­ning for the pres­i­den­cy. What has changed between March and Novem­ber?

Accord­ing to Bloomberg’s team, the answer is that Joe Biden’s posi­tion in the pri­ma­ry looked unas­sail­able back in March, where­as now the for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent looks com­par­a­tive­ly weak. If Biden were to lose the nom­i­na­tion, Bloomberg is wor­ried that the like­ly win­ner – either Eliz­a­beth War­ren or Bernie Sanders – would be unable to beat Trump in the gen­er­al elec­tion.

A quick look at Real­Clear­Pol­i­tics polling aver­ages shows that both Sanders and War­ren would trounce Trump on the nation­al lev­el; they even beat him in cru­cial states like Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia.

A more like­ly rea­son for Bloomberg to take on Sanders and War­ren is that he oppos­es their pro­gres­sive views on eco­nom­ic and fis­cal issues. While Bloomberg is a lib­er­al on issues like gun respon­si­bil­i­ty, he is as con­ser­v­a­tive as they come on eco­nom­ic mat­ters. Pop­u­lar pro­gres­sive ideas such as Warren’s wealth tax would ever so slight­ly reduce the gigan­tic per­son­al for­tune he’s accu­mu­lat­ed.

On paper, Bloomberg is a polit­i­cal force to be reck­oned with. He has decades-long rela­tion­ships with many of the most pow­er­ful fig­ures in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s estab­lish­ment, as well as his own media com­pa­ny, Bloomberg News, to spread his mes­sage. He is also stag­ger­ing­ly wealthy; with a net worth of $52 bil­lion, he makes even Tom Stey­er ($1.6 bil­lion) look like a pau­per.

With that lev­el of per­son­al for­tune, he won’t face the kind of finan­cial chal­lenges that are cur­rent­ly beset­ting the Biden cam­paign.

Despite all that, Bloomberg has only a tiny chance of win­ning the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry. A recent Fox Noise Chan­nel poll found that, while 6% of Democ­rats def­i­nite­ly sup­port him, almost a third would nev­er vote for him no mat­ter what. He only has a net favor­a­bil­i­ty among Democ­rats of +11%, despite being one of the most well known politi­cians in the coun­try.

Nei­ther Bloomberg’s ideas not his iden­ti­ty appear to be what the Demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­torate are look­ing for in a 2020 can­di­date.

In a con­test where debates have focused on inequal­i­ties and address­ing racial dif­fer­ences, Bloomberg seems ready to insis­tent­ly stick to his neolib­er­al eco­nom­ics and even defend the racist stop-and-frisk poli­cies of the NYPD while he was New York’s may­or. Of course, Joe Biden shares many of Bloomberg’s pol­i­cy posi­tions, but the Vice Pres­i­dent is more fond­ly viewed by mid­dle and low income vot­ers.

In an elec­tion where the num­ber one pri­or­i­ty of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers – no mat­ter their race, class or geo­graph­ic loca­tion – is to remove Don­ald Trump from the Oval Office, it seems incon­ceiv­able that they would turn to anoth­er New York bil­lion­aire, espe­cial­ly when they have the most diverse field of can­di­dates in Amer­i­can his­to­ry to choose a nom­i­nee from.

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