The billionaire mogul Michael Bloomberg could have a big impact on the Democratic Party’s 2020 primaries, a political scientist has said, amid reports he is preparing the ground to do just that.
Bloomberg, 77, is a former mayor of New York City and has been tipped in several previous elections as a potential candidate for president. Currently a Democrat, Bloomberg has also been a Republican—including while mayor—and an independent in his life.
According to The New York Times, Bloomberg is now actively preparing to enter the 2020 race, calling prominent Democrats to discuss the idea, but is still weighing the decision.
He reportedly sent staffers to Alabama to gather signatures for the primary there ahead of Friday’s formal deadline in the state for candidates.
The field of Democratic candidates for 2020 is wide and diverse as the party heads towards February’s opening primary in Iowa.
The leading candidates nationally are former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 70.
“As a former business magnate and mayor of New York City, Bloomberg has the two qualities essential to enter the presidential race at this late stage: money and name recognition,” Dr. Thomas Gift, a political scientist at University College London, told Newsweek.
“For that reason, I think Bloomberg can immediately become a heavyweight in the Democratic primaries. Beyond the attention he’d garner with his announcement, there’s plenty of space for Bloomberg to position himself as a moderate voice, especially with Joe Biden’s candidacy stuck in neutral.”
Gift said Bloomberg may appeal to moderate Democrats “looking for a reasoned and pragmatic approach to policy, especially someone with a proven track-record of competence.”
“Unlike Elizabeth Warren, he also radiates electability, which is important to many Democrats who, above all else, prioritize beating Trump in the 2020 election,” Gift said.
However, Bloomberg, who Forbes has as the eighth richest person in the world with his $52 billion net worth, will likely alienate the party’s progressive wing and he will face “tough questions about whether he understands the plights of average Americans,” Gift said.
But the philanthropist is still in with a shot if he chooses to enter.
“Bloomberg wouldn’t enter the fray if he didn’t think he had a legitimate chance of winning the Democratic nomination—and the White House,” Gift told Newsweek.
“If he runs a smart campaign that focuses on ‘common-sense’ policy solutions—and shows that he can also appeal to progressives on issues like gun control and climate change—I don’t think he’s misreading the tea leaves.”
Howard Wolfson, a close aide to Bloomberg, tweeted a statement on Thursday noting that Trump is “an unprecedented threat to our nation” and that his boss spent over $100 million last year to help Democrats win seats in Congress “to hold the President accountable.”
“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated—but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned to do that,” Wolfson wrote.
“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.
“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.”