The current field of Democratic candidates has a lot of ideological range. Sen. Bernie Sanders heads the progressives, former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar are the leading moderates, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren is somewhere in between. Most democratic voters should be able to find a candidate that best matches their world view. Many voters, however, are concerned that no candidate would be the favorite against President Trump in November. This is the reason many are now flocking to a surging New York billionaire.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg jumped into the race in November, and has since spent over $300 million as he surges in the polls. Much of this rise is due to some Democratic voters believing Bloomberg has the best chance at beating Trump because of his campaign’s wealth and the fact that he is “in the middle.”
This argument, however, continues to feed into the damaging belief that a compromising, centrist Democrat is best suited to beat a right-wing populist - or any Republican, for that matter. Bloomberg’s political history as the mayor of New York, his support for Republicans until very recently, and the fact that he will not excite the liberal base might make him the next moderate Democrat to lose what should be an easy election.
It’s important to start with this fact: Mike Bloomberg was a Republican until 2007. When he first ran for mayor in 2003, Bloomberg was elected as a Republican. The presidential candidate did not register as "blue" until 2018. This makes the Democratic Party look incredibly weak. Would Republican voters ever consider a presidential candidate that was once an elected Democrat? Republicans get mad at much less. For example, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was lambasted by his own party for hugging Pres. Obama when the two met during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Bloomberg has also supported the GOP and donated to many Republican candidates over the years. These donations continued even into the 2018 midterm elections, where the former mayor contributed to two GOP congressmen. A former elected Republican who has supported Republicans until just two years ago is supposed to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee? Bloomberg is not a moderate Democrat; he is essentially a Republican.
It only gets worse. As mayor, Bloomberg intensified the “stop and frisk” policy of the New York Police Department. While it was already in place under his predecessor Rudy Giuliani, the amount of “stop and frisk” actions increased by 600% during Bloomberg’s first ten years as mayor. He was an ardent supporter of the unconstitutional practice which targeted New York’s minority communities. No Wall Street executive was being searched on the spot by the NYPD.
Recently released audio from 2015 shows why Bloomberg might have been such a fan. “95 percent of your murders -- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, sixteen to twenty-five. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city,” he said.
After supporting “stop and frisk” for years, Bloomberg conveniently apologized just days before announcing his candidacy. It became clear to him that in this present political climate, harboring such views are incredibly problematic. Current New York Mayor Bill de Blasio questioned Bloomberg's authenticity: “People aren’t stupid. They can figure whether someone is honestly addressing an issue or whether they’re acting out of convenience.”
Bloomberg’s surge, mostly due to his vast wealth, begs deeper questions. Before announcing his candidacy, he donated $300,000 to the DNC. This donation paid off, as the DNC then changed its donor requirement in January for the Democratic debate in late February. This raises multiple ethical questions, furthering the distrust many Democrats have towards their party.
With his questionable campaign and former party allegiance, Bloomberg is not the candidate that will fire up the Democratic liberal base. At the same time, his long history with “stop and frisk” could result in lower inner city and minority turnout at a time when high turnout is so crucial. This is exactly what happened with Hillary Clinton in 2016, and she was just another moderate Democrat to lose what should have been an easy election.