Why would Michael Bloomberg, worth in excess of $50 billion, and counting, decide to enter the Democratic presidential primary at the last possible moment, with no public support and a winnowed down field with whom the public is just starting to become familiar?
The answer lies within the question: When you have $50 billion, and counting, and when you made that $50 billion through your own hard work, you live in a different space, with a different understanding of your potential, and with a different expectation of what others might think.
The odds of Mr. Bloomberg prevailing are minuscule. The odds of Mr. Bloomberg having an effect are not. When you have that much money, and when you have curried the honest respect from many others, and when you’ve championed such causes as climate change and gun control, which he has, then Mr. Bloomberg’s choosing to be part of the process may very well change the outcome at different levels and in different states.
In a race in which the top four candidates - Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg - are separated by a small percentage of voters, Mr. Bloomberg has every reason to think he might be successful, understanding that being successful has many interpretations.
By entering the race, Mr. Bloomberg is making one thing crystal clear: He views Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren as so far to the political left that neither would have a chance in the general election against Donald Trump. He also fears that Ms. Warren is overtaking Mr. Biden, who, in Mr. Bloomberg’s thinking, isn’t holding up to the rigors of a presidential campaign. The political middle seems approachable.
Bottom line: If he cannot be president he would prefer Mr. Biden to be, and he believes he can peel off enough moderates from Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren to hurt them and help himself, or Mr. Biden.
Mr. Bloomberg isn’t the only billionaire in the race. Tom Steyer, the hedge fund billionaire from California, is also in the race and is polling a steady zero. But the two aren’t comparable. Mr. Bloomberg is worth about 25 times what Mr. Steyer is worth, he was a three-term mayor of New York City, and his political bonafides are in a league several stories above Mr. Steyer’s.
Mr. Bloomberg’s announcement also got under the skin of Mr. Sanders who was quoted as saying: “You’re not going to buy this election…That is the arrogance of billionaires. As I understand it, he’s planning to skip the first four states. We’re doing five events this weekend right here in Iowa, all over New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, California. But he’s too important.”
Well, someone’s a little sensitive.
The person who has the most to gain, or to lose, is Mr. Biden. He still sits atop most of the polls, but is struggling to raise money. Both Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have far deeper war chests than Mr. Biden. Mr. Bloomberg will not attack Mr. Biden the way he might attack Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren. Politically, he and Mr. Biden are of the same ilk. If he has any success in attacking Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, he may add to Mr. Biden’s strength, building a stronger coalition among the party’s moderates. That’s certainly Mr. Biden’s hope.
All that aside, what Mr. Bloomberg will provide is another attack on President Trump, a person whom he despises, someone he believes is unfit to be president, and a president who is a threat to our democracy - as we’re witnessing with the impeachment hearings that began Wednesday. Mr. Bloomberg will summon forth a part of the Democratic Party that believes in the need for innovation, growth and an open mind to creative ways that spur us to new and better heights - something that is missing in the current cadre of presidential wannabees.
If the political process is strengthened by participation, then we have no reason but to think Mr. Bloomberg’s decision to enter the fray is something to welcome.
by Emerson Lynn