Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, plans to file paperwork to qualify for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Alabama.
It’s a move toward a possible presidential run, Politico reports. While he has not made a final decision, the multibillionaire media magnate has reportedly been mulling a run with advisers and potential supporters.
“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,” Howard Wolfson, a top Bloomberg aide, told Politico.
It’s a sign that former Vice-President Joe Biden is fading.
Last March, Bloomberg, 77, took a pass on getting into the race. Then, it was clear that Biden, 76, would run. Like Biden, Bloomberg brings a centrist view and a hefty resume. There is no room in the race for two septuagenarian white men toting legacy credentials.
Now, Biden is faltering.
“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,” Wolfson added.
Moderate Democrats are nervous about Biden’s viability. Once seen as the most electable in the massive Democratic primary lineup, now Biden’s shaky debate performances and other controversies are raising serious questions.
“I definitely would consider voting for Bloomberg,” Larry Brinkman, one of my regular correspondents, wrote the other day. “I am afraid Warren & Sanders are too far left for me.”
Biden’s health “is a major concern,” added Brinkman, a Chicagoan who says he is a “lifelong, independent Democrat.”
“I have great concern about our current presidential candidates.”
Bloomberg’s money and status could quickly make the three-term former mayor as the new Democrat to beat.
But this “new choice” would also bring a choice array of problems.
It’s very, very late to mount a full-blown primary bid. Only two nationally televised primary debates remain this year, and Bloomberg may not have enough time to qualify.
A nascent Bloomberg campaign would have to scramble hard and spend high to erect a competitive campaign infrastructure to survive the early primary states.
And he’s so, so rich. Forbes estimates Bloomberg is currently worth $52 billion, a great hook for opponents who will label him as an elitist, out-of-touch New Yorker.
As mayor, he advocated for stop-and-frisk policing policies. That may endear him to conservatives, but it will repel the African American and Latino voters who are crucial to the Democratic Party base.
The staunch gun control advocate put a fortune of his personal wealth into candidates, campaigns and legislation aimed at getting guns off the streets. That won’t play well among libertarian, independent and rural voters.
Bloomberg poured millions more into efforts to fight cancer, heart disease, obesity and other public health perils. In New York, Chicago and other cities, he backed legislation and policies aimed at curbing unhealthy behaviors, like Cook County’s ill-fated soda tax.
Bloomberg would turn the nation into the Nanny States of America, critics will snarl.
Then there’s the sexist comments he has uttered, and last year, Bloomberg offended #MeToo activists when he defended Charlie Rose, the broadcaster who was banished from his high-profile perches at CBS and PBS in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
Bloomberg suggested he had doubts about accusations from some women. (Although compared to President Donald J. Trump, Bloomberg looks like a raging feminist).
The bottom line: If Blomberg runs, he may need every dime of that $52 billion to win.
Laura S. Washington is a Sun-Times columnist and a political analyst for ABC 7. Follow her on Twitter @MediaDervish
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