In what has become a familiar routine every time a presidential election looms less than three years away, billionaire ex–New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is dropping hints about running for president. According to a New York CBS affiliate, Bloomberg has told associates that he is “revving up” to make a bid in 2020. But this time, there’s a twist: He’d be running as a Democrat.
Bloomberg has contemplated running in 2008, 2012, and 2016, and whether he’s serious this time is anyone’s guess. But the New York Post reported that, at a recent fundraiser at Cipriani 42nd Street — Bloomberg’s natural habitat — he told an adoring crowd, “Before you leave I want to get your cell-phone number because I’m thinking of getting the band back together.”
Bloomberg was a Democrat before he switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor in 2001; he then became an Independent in 2007, during his second term. He has long been a liberal on issues ranging from gun reform to climate change, and has drifted back toward the Democratic Party as the GOP has grown increasingly reactionary, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and announcing this month that he would pledge $80 million to back Democratic candidates in the midterm elections.
The CBS report notes that political consultants believe Bloomberg’s run would be an “uphill battle because of his liberal policies.”
But that would probably the least of the ex-mayor’s problems. Bloomberg is a highly competent technocrat who at times enjoyed broad popularity in New York City. But there’s no evidence that he retains enough popularity among the minority voters who make up the Democratic base to gain serious traction. His controversial stop-and-frisk police policies alienated many black and Hispanic voters in New York, and the issue would surely come back to haunt him in a primary. Bloomberg is also synonymous with big business and Wall Street to an extent that would likely be difficult to overcome in a Democratic Party that is increasingly suspicious of corporate influence.
This is not to mention that Bloomberg would be 78 years old by the time actual primary season rolls around.
Initial liberal reaction to the news was, predictably, less than enthusiastic.
Of course, there was another major New York figure of recent vintage who constantly dangled the prospect of a presidential run before a credulous media, but was deemed to have no real chance of victory if he ever did take the plunge.
On Tuesday, he marked his 522nd day in office.