by Joe Lockhart
Feb. 18, 2020
So, why are Democrats considering overlooking Bloomberg’s baggage now to the point that he’s currently running as high as third, according to a Quinnipiac poll? Because in my view, rank and file Democrats are so invested in the imperative to defeat Donald Trump they may well be willing to ignore the issues that likely kept Bloomberg out of the race at the outset. Earlier this week, a resurfaced recording from 2015 revealed Bloomberg defending stop-and-frisk, as well as racist policing in New York City.
Now, it’s not all baggage with Bloomberg. He’s spent massive amounts of his personal wealth funding gun safety campaigns around the country. With that, he’s built a network of political supporters who’ve benefited from his financial support. His leadership and financing of climate change initiatives has also provided him with a base of liberal and young leaders around the country.
But as in many puzzles, the answer is following the money. And that’s what Bloomberg has, and lots of it. And unlike some other billionaires, he’s willing to spend it, as much as it takes, to win both the nomination and the presidency. He’s already spent more than $300 million on advertising alone and has built a nationwide campaign staff of almost 2,500 people.
Many donors are privately excited by Bloomberg for selfish reasons — they won’t have to pony up big sums in both the primaries and general election to help him get elected. He will self-fund the campaign completely.
Other Democrats were pleased he made the commitment to spend into the billions through the fall even if he’s not nominated. And party professionals are tickled that Bloomberg is spending massive sums attacking Trump in battleground states right now when Democratic candidates can’t afford it.
Finally, the massive alarm sounded by political professionals about the online dominance of the Trump campaign has literally been wiped out overnight by Bloomberg’s spending on social media platforms.
There are still obstacles ahead. Bloomberg has not participated in a single debate and has until this week largely avoided the scrutiny of the media and the other candidates. He’s needed to prove he’s more than an advertisement candidate, and can both deliver a punch on the stump and take one himself.
Advertising professionals can make anyone seem exciting and compelling; the normally staid Bloomberg will have to prove he’s got some persuasive powers beyond the largesse of his checkbook.
The single-minded mission among Democrats partially explains why Joe Biden stayed on top of the Democratic field for so long. Now that he’s faltered in two straight contests, Democrats increasingly are looking to Bloomberg as the solution to the problem they care about above all else—defeating Donald Trump. And they might be willing to give the previously thought “unelectable” Mike Bloomberg a long look for the Democratic nomination for President.