Who would you like to see better represented in the already-crowded Democratic primary? Septuagenarians? Centrists? Or billionaires?
For those of you who answered ‘all three’, you may be in luck, as the New York Times reports that former New York mayor and current 17th richest person in the world Michael Bloomberg is set to file paperwork in Alabama designating himself a presidential candidate.
Bloomberg has sat on the sidelines over the past few months. He has watched once-respected politicians address near-empty tents in New Hampshire and seen Tom Steyer splurge his own cash on TV and internet ads to distort the proportion of his popularity. It takes real guts to observe that and think ‘I too would like to get 3 percent in a poll — how much of my money would you like?’ So full credit to him.
The obvious conclusion to draw is that Bloomberg, like several others, senses weakness in the leading center-left contender, Joe Biden. But, the Times says, his candidacy could also serve the role of ‘intensifying the Democrats’ existing debates about economic inequality and corporate power, and offering fodder to the party’s rising populist wing, led by Sens. Warren and Sanders, who contend that the extremely rich already wield far too much influence in politics.’ Sounds fun!
The piece goes on to point out that ‘Mr Bloomberg has repeatedly expressed discomfort with certain policies favored by both Ms Warren and Mr Sanders.’ Truly it would be exhilarating to see the Democratic primary turn into a senior center showdown, with the leading candidates guzzling statins as they whirl walking sticks around their heads, duking it out over healthcare.
But that’s assuming two things: that Biden is really flagging enough to justify another centrist in the race (I’m not sure he is) and that Bloomberg can make inroads to the top of the field despite his late entry. His adviser Howard Wolfson told the Times, ‘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.’ Effectively, a Bill de Blasio-John Delaney-Tom Steyer hybrid. A tantalizing prospect for the denizens of early-primary states, if not for Bloomberg employees.
The potential Bloomberg announcement has sent a ripple through the media, which have grown accustomed to weary 2020 candidates dropping out. In fact this would almost be Bloomberg’s most egregious entrance, second only to the Manhattan party he rolled up to in 2013, as documented by New York magazine:
‘Later in the evening, the host interrupted me to point out that the mayor himself had just arrived. Did I want to meet him? Sure. My friend and I followed the host over, shook Bloomberg’s hand, and my friend thanked him for his position on gun control. Without even acknowledging the comment, Bloomberg gestured toward a woman in a very tight floor-length gown standing nearby and said, “Look at the ass on her.”’
See you in Des Moines, Mr Mayor.