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What Does Bloomberg's 2020 Entrance Mean?

Charlie Cook New
November 8, 2019

News that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be filing petitions to meet the November 8th filing deadline for the Democratic presidential primary in Alabama shook the political world last night, sparking many different reactions. Alabama has the earliest filing deadline in the country, necessitating the move if the New Yorker were to enter the race.

Some greeted the move with skepticism, others with curiosity. Many have felt it was too late for anyone new to get into the race. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet delayed entry to deal with a health issue, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock felt the necessity to wait until after his state’s legislative session ended before entering the fray. In both cases the late entry put their candidacies at tremendous disadvantages and neither have truly recovered.

Furthermore, the Democratic Party has been trending leftward and arguably is now less business-friendly than it has been in decades. One wonders if anyone who has ever started or run a business could win the party’s nomination in the current environment. The growing concern on the left about widening income and wealth disparities would seem to exacerbate the challenges of a billionaire seeking a Democratic nomination. Bloomberg is not particularly close with voters of color, who play a disproportionate role in many of the primaries that come after the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary. All of these factors were likely reasons why Bloomberg opted not to enter this race early this year when he contemplated a bid.

But others argue that a combination of Bloomberg’s bottomless checkbook and over two decades of due diligence work, having commissioned countless polls and having consultants conduct considerable contingency planning while previously contemplating presidential bids as either an independent or Democrat, might make a jumpstart somewhat easier.

The only circumstances that might warrant Bloomberg’s entry would appear to be taking place now. First, there has been a surge by the progressive populists, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The thinking is that this pull to the left for Democrats would be both wrong-headed from a policy standpoint and could effectively re-elect President Trump. This could be an inducement for Bloomberg to consider entry. Additionally, if no center-left, establishment-friendly alternative seemed to be building a comparable level of momentum, it could be seen as a vacuum for Bloomberg to fill.

It is prudent at this point to withhold judgment on how Bloomberg would do if he gets into the race, little else about this race has been particularly predictable, why should it start now?