Former New York City mayor and self-made billionaire Michael Bloomberg is reportedly inching toward declaring his candidacy for the 2020 presidential campaign, and is making moves that include filing paperwork calling himself a candidate in the Democratic race in the Alabama primary.
Bloomberg has reportedly not made a final decision to run, as the Associated Press and New York Times are reporting, but the move is a signal that he is now seriously considering a run that would place him as a centrist challenger to Joe Biden. Alabama, which is part of the Super Tuesday primary group that will be holding primary elections on March 3, has an especially early filing date of November 8 for candidates. There are no filing requirements for the Iowa caucuses, which happen on February 3, and candidates can enter the race for those at any time.
Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to Bloomberg, said in a statement on Thursday that the former mayor viewed President Trump as an “unprecedented threat to our nation,” per the New York Times. "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 said.
The move adds a new wrinkle to the story of this already crowded election, and it follows on a New York Times/Siena College poll published three days ago that showed Trump winning in three to five key battleground states if his opponent were Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. If Biden were the Democratic nominee, the poll showed Biden had just a slim lead over Trump in four out of six battleground states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona), with the results even for Biden and Trump in Michigan.
Bloomberg is likely to make up his mind within days, according to his advisors. The 77-year-old former mayor had previously ruled out a run for next year.
Despite his personal wealth for use in campaign funding, Bloomberg would likely face a difficult road to getting on primary voters' radar at this late date. A Fox News poll of Democrats last month found that only 6 percent said they'd definitely vote for him, and about a third said they'd never vote for him.
As the AP notes, Bloomberg still has an advantage in attracting independents and those who are alienated by the left-leaning policy agendas of Warren and Sanders. Bloomberg is a former registered Republican turned Independent, and he only registered as a Democrat last year — though he actively supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and had been a lifelong Democrat before deciding to run for mayor in New York. And perhaps, the argument goes, voters who are impressed with Donald Trump's purported credentials as a businessman (who still believes that fiction??) could be attracted to another successful businessman who doesn't necessarily share his views on social issues, and has some actual experience in government.
Bloomberg was elected for three consecutive terms as New York City mayor, serving from 2002 to 2013 — he took office after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was termed out. For his third term he registered as an Independent, but ran on the Republican Party line of the ballot. He began his career in finance as Solomon Brothers, and founded his own firm in 1981, ultimately growing it into a global financial services, software and mass media company. He served as CEO of the company until being elected mayor, and he resumed his post as CEO in late 2014. He previously considered running as a third-party candidate in 2016, but elected not to.
He is said to be the 9th richest person in the United States, according to Forbes, and the 14th richest in the world, with an estimated net worth of $53 billion.
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