Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering a presidential bid for 2016.
Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of financial data and media company, Bloomberg L.P., is considering a presidential bid, according to The New York Times, because he's “galled” by Donald Trump’s popularity and Hillary Clinton’s increasingly leftward political bent.
Former Democratic National Committee chair Edward Rendell confirmed Bloomberg’s plans, “Mike Bloomberg for president rests on the not-impossible but somewhat unlikely circumstance of either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz versus Bernie Sanders.”
An on-again, off-again Republican, Bloomberg’s socially liberal views on issues like abortion and gun control will prevent him from running in the Republican primary. And although he was a registered Democrat before running for mayor of New York, his wealth will keep him out of a Democratic primary where the other candidates use “Wall Street” like a swear word.
Instead, Bloomberg would likely run as an independent candidate (he switched party affiliation Republican to independent in 2007). His supporters say that he could be an attractive option in a race that has so far tended towards more non-traditional political options.
Bloomberg’s views on gun control, in particular, might win him more moderate conservative supporters, says Republican candidate Rand Paul. Unlike prominent Republican candidates such as Ted Cruz, Bloomberg has come out strongly in favor of gun control regulations. The NRA is no fan. A Bloomberg candidacy could elevate the gun control issue to center stage in 2016.
Since he finished his third term as mayor of New York, Bloomberg has been an advocate for causes close to his heart. The roster of causes he supports sounds like a liberal candidate’s talking points: climate change, marriage equality, education, and of course, gun control.
Indeed, some suggest that Bloomberg might pose a danger to whoever becomes the Democratic candidate, as his candidacy could split the Democratic vote, the Wall Street Journal reports. Jennifer Horn, the chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican state committee said, “I think it’s the Democrats who would suffer from a Michael Bloomberg candidacy.”
Independently wealthy, the former mayor is reportedly willing to spend $1 billion of his own money to run. Bloomberg already has his own Super PAC, Independence USA, which supports political moderates and their causes.
Yet, although Bloomberg’s company has donated just over $200,000 to the Super PAC in 2016 cycle, OpenSecrets.org reports that Indepenence USA has not yet spent money either supporting or attacking presidential candidates from either party.
Bloomberg has been considering a White House run since 2006. In 2007, when Bloomberg was reportedly seriously considering jumping into the race, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham penned a glowing endorsement of Bloomberg’s moderate beliefs and “steadiness.”
And then, it all stopped. Bloomberg himself wrote an opinion article for the New York Times, announcing that he would not run for president, but that he would support moderate candidates.
In 2016, Bloomberg is once again approaching the election season with caution. In December, he commissioned a poll to assess his chances. He has instructed his advisors to study other third-party candidates such as Teddy Roosevelt and Ross Perot.
Bloomberg also appears to have plenty of support. The Atlantic reported this past fall that Bloomberg has been receiving calls from wealthy friends, encouraging him to run. Business interests want a representative who isn’t as conservative as Donald Trump.
Bloomberg’s Wall Street pal, Bill Ackerman, says that he would contribute to the former mayor’s campaign. Mr. Ackerman quipped a few weeks ago, “I would do everything in my power to get this guy elected. It’s just one quarter’s dividend.” Rupert Murdoch has also tweeted about Bloomberg’s candidacy.
Bloomberg's monied relationships, however, may undermine support, too. With Bernie Sanders, who regularly attacks opponent Hillary Clinton for her Wall Street connections, doing better than expected in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Bloomberg knows his background could be a liability as well as a benefit.
Still, Bloomberg has time. Reportedly he will make his decision by sometime in March – after the primaries and caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.