Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering jumping into the 2020 US presidential race this week, after previously announcing that he would definitely not run.
The 77-year-old former mayor of New York City is expected to file paperwork to get on the ballot in Alabama’s Democratic presidential primary, people familiar with the plan told The New York Times on Thursday.
Alabama’s deadline for candidates to formally enter its primary, which is one of many held on Super Tuesday, is Friday.
Bloomberg mulled entering the race earlier this year. But in March, the centrist said he would not run for president as a Democrat in the 2020 election, citing the already crowded field that has hardly reduced since then. He said he would instead focus his political efforts on expanding support for the Beyond the Coal campaign and backing candidates who promote gun control.
Bloomberg’s entering the race would make him the richest person to ever run for president, beating out billionaire Ross Perot who ran as a third party candidate in the 1990s. The businessman would join fellow billionaire Tom Steyer in the Democratic field, though Steyer’s net worth is $1.6 billion, paling in comparison to Bloomberg’s $50 billion.
Howard Wolfson, a top adviser to Bloomberg, told HuffPost in a statement that the billionaire is worried that the current field of Democratic candidates is “not well positioned” to defeat President Donald Trump.
“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,” Wolfson said. “Based on his record of accomplishment, leadership and his ability to bring people together to drive change, Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win.”
Wolfson cited Bloomberg’s consistently outspoken criticism of the Trump administration, as well as the businessman’s spending to help elect Democrats to Congress in 2018, which totaled more than $100 million.
Part of the reason Bloomberg said he wouldn’t run earlier this year is because he felt former Vice President Joe Biden, a fellow moderate running on a campaign of bipartisan unity, was strong enough to carry the party. It’s unclear if Bloomberg’s opinion has changed, now that he’s considering a run again.
Bloomberg’s campaign could also heighten the debate about wealth inequality and corporate power, topics that are core to the campaigns of Democratic candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are among the top performers in early primary polling. One of Warren’s signature policy proposals is a wealth tax that would require the rich to pay 2 cents for every dollar over $50 million in their personal fortunes. Sanders, a democratic socialist, has also proposed a version of a wealth tax and is famous for railing against “millionaires and billionaires” in his campaign speeches.
Warren tweeted Thursday in response to the reports, welcoming Bloomberg to the race and poking fun at his wealth.
“If you’re looking for policy plans that will make a huge difference for working people and which are very popular, start here,” she tweeted, linking to a page on her campaign website that calculates how much billionaires would pay the government under her wealth tax.
Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, also highlighted Bloomberg’s billionaire status in response to news of his potential presidential run.
“More billionaires seeking more political power surely isn’t the change America needs,” Shakir told HuffPost in a statement.