In late January, The New York Times reported that former New York City mayor Michael Rubens Bloomberg is seriously considering an independent run for president. Having been widely seen as a likely presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, will the third time be the charm for the three-term mayor?
According to The New York Times, Bloomberg will run if Clinton fails to win the Democratic Party nomination or, according to the New Yorker, if Donald Trump wins the Republican Party nomination. Since both scenarios seem increasingly likely, a Bloomberg run seems all but certain. Bloomberg is expected to make a decision whether or not to run around March.
But why hold your breath until March? Bloomberg is almost nonexistent in the polls and his previous flirtations with presidential runs have all come to naught (which, though true, could also have been said about Trump before June 2015). Even though filing deadlines for nominating petitions have already passed in many states, Bloomberg will be more than able to afford whatever late fees there might be; worth roughly forty billion dollars, Bloomberg is between five and ten times wealthier than Trump — the estimates of Trump’s wealth vary substantially.
If Trump’s candidacy has taught us anything, it is this: when a billionaire decides to run for president, listen with both ears. It was true with Trump in June 2015. Time will tell whether it will be true with Bloomberg in March 2016.
“The special interests and the campaign donors have never had less power than they've had over the past eleven years,” the billionaire Bloomberg said at his 2013 state of the city address, then in his third term. Whatever nerve Trump is tapping with the Republicans with his too-rich-to-be-bribed rhetoric, Bloomberg could likely tap the same nerve with the Democrats.
“The old piers below the Brooklyn Bridge,” Bloomberg continued in his address, “largely abandoned for decades, are now a spectacular park… This year, we’ll open two new sections of the park and we’ll transform two 19th century warehouses within the park into modern spaces for culture and commerce.” Public parks, cultural centers, commercial centers — government projects from start to finish. Though Trump too supports some public works projects, the Democrats support them on a scale currently unmatched by the Republicans.
One of the most progressive figures in the United States, it would perhaps be easier to describe how Bloomberg differs from Sanders and why he might begrudge Sanders winning the nomination rather than pin down every detail of Bloomberg’s often complicated political profile.
Bloomberg and Sanders are near twins when it comes to social policy but the two quickly part ways. Bloomberg supports strict gun control, opposes marijuana legalization, banned sodas larger than 16 ounces and banned cigarettes in much of New York City. More importantly, Bloomberg supported the Wall Street bailouts, he opposes immigration restrictions — Sanders opposes a policy of open borders as “a Koch brothers proposal” — and he opposes economic protectionism.
In this light, it makes sense that the pro-globalization Bloomberg would take issue with the anti-globalist Sanders becoming the figurehead of the Democratic Party. While winning over Sanders’ core supporters could be a tall task, Bloomberg could, I think, easily fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton.
He has the money, he doesn’t have a federal investigation hanging over his head, and he won three terms as mayor of the country’s largest city. Who knows? Perhaps Bloomberg really would stand a chance after all.