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Michael Bloomberg Files Paperwork for 2020 Presidential Primary Michael Bloomberg Files Paperwork for 2020 Presidential Primary
(32 minutes later)
Michael R. Bloomberg moved forward on Friday with plans to enter the 2020 presidential race, filing papers to become a candidate in the Alabama Democratic primary and further disrupting the race by embracing a risky campaign strategy that would involve bypassing early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Michael R. Bloomberg disrupted the Democratic presidential field on Friday as he took his first steps into the 2020 race, unnerving supporters of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and prompting Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to accuse Mr. Bloomberg of seeking to buy the presidency.
Mr. Bloomberg qualified for the Alabama primary on Friday afternoon, according to Alabama Democratic Party. The Deep South state has the earliest deadline in the country, Nov. 8, for candidates to qualify for the primary ballot, effectively forcing Mr. Bloomberg to put his name into contention this week if he did not want to get shut out of the ballot. But Mr. Bloomberg’s early moves also signaled he would be approaching the campaign in an unconventional manner: In a dramatic acknowledgment of his own late start in the race, Mr. Bloomberg and his advisers have decided that he would pursue a risky strategy of skipping all four traditional early-state contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, and focus instead on big states that hold primaries soon afterward.
While Mr. Bloomberg has not made a final decision to run, his allies say he intends to enter the race and his early moves have rippled through the rest of the Democratic field. It has raised alarm among supporters of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is presently the leading centrist in the race, and prompted accusations from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders that Mr. Bloomberg is going to try to buy the presidency. Mr. Bloomberg, who flirted with running for president in 2008 and 2016 and early this year, but had never taken a formal step to do so, filed paperwork and qualified for the Alabama primary on Friday afternoon. The Deep South state has the earliest primary filing deadline in the country, effectively forcing Mr. Bloomberg to put his name into contention this week if he did not want to get shut out of the ballot.
And in perhaps the strongest sign yet that his candidacy would scramble the existing race, Mr. Bloomberg has decided that if he seeks the Democratic nomination, he would stake his candidacy on big, delegate-rich states like California and Texas, which vote somewhat later in the calendar, rather than trying to catch up with his rivals in the circuit of traditional early states. While Mr. Bloomberg has not made a final decision to run, his allies say he intends to enter the campaign. His consideration of a 2020 bid reflects the fluidity of the race and the angst among many leading Democrats about whether Mr. Biden is strong enough to win the nomination as a centrist standard-bearer. Mr. Bloomberg is also acting on his own longstanding ambition to be president: At 77, he is unlikely to have another chance to run if he does not attempt a campaign now.
Should Mr. Bloomberg proceed with such a campaign, he would be attempting to take a high-risk route to the Democratic nomination unprecedented in modern presidential politics one that shuns the town hall meetings and door-to-door campaigning that characterizes states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and relies instead on a sustained and costly campaign of paid advertising and canvassing on a grand scale. Mr. Bloomberg’s moves have already rippled through an unsettled Democratic field. While polls show that most Democratic voters are content with their current array of candidates, there are significant pockets of unease, most of all among politically moderate donors and leaders of the party establishment who are concerned about Mr. Biden’s prospects in the primary and fear that Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are too liberal for the general election.
That approach would amount to a bet that no other candidate emerges from that early-state circuit with the kind of momentum that could overwhelm whatever operation Mr. Bloomberg has built in the Super Tuesday states that vote in early March. It would also likely enrage Democratic Party leaders in the early states, several of which are key battlegrounds in the general election, and intensify complaints from Mr. Bloomberg’s opponents about his reliance on personal wealth. But Mr. Bloomberg will have to overcome considerable doubts across the Democratic Party about his own ability to win the nomination, and prove that he is more than a niche candidate for moderate elites.
Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, cited the other candidates’ head start in a statement confirming that Mr. Bloomberg intended to mount his campaign from the outset in an unconventional array of states. On Friday, Mr. Bloomberg’s camp began to lay out in public a theory of how he might win the nomination: Advisers said he intended to stake his candidacy on big, delegate-rich primary states like California and Texas, where Mr. Bloomberg’s immense personal fortune could be put to extensive use.
Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, said in a statement that Mr. Bloomberg would not contest the early states where other candidates have been competing for months, and would mount his candidacy in a different array of states from the outset.
“If we run, we are confident we can win in states voting on Super Tuesday and beyond, where we will start on an even footing,” Mr. Wolfson said. “But the late timing of our entry means that many candidates already have a big head start in the four early states, where they’ve spent months and months campaigning and spending money. We have enormous respect for the Democratic primary process and many friends in those states, but our plan is to run a broad-based, national campaign.”“If we run, we are confident we can win in states voting on Super Tuesday and beyond, where we will start on an even footing,” Mr. Wolfson said. “But the late timing of our entry means that many candidates already have a big head start in the four early states, where they’ve spent months and months campaigning and spending money. We have enormous respect for the Democratic primary process and many friends in those states, but our plan is to run a broad-based, national campaign.”
Should Mr. Bloomberg proceed with such a campaign, he would be attempting to take a high-risk route to the Democratic nomination that has never succeeded in modern politics — one that shuns the town hall meetings and door-to-door campaigning that characterizes states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and relies instead on a sustained and costly campaign of paid advertising and canvassing on a grand scale.
That approach would amount to a high-risk bet that no other candidate emerges from that early-state circuit with the kind of momentum that could overwhelm whatever operation Mr. Bloomberg has built in the Super Tuesday states that vote in early March. It is sure to alienate Democratic Party leaders and stalwarts in the early states, several of which are key battlegrounds in the general election, and intensify complaints from Mr. Bloomberg’s opponents about his reliance on personal wealth.
The plan to skip campaigning in early voting states drew a sharply negative reaction Friday night from the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Ray Buckley.The plan to skip campaigning in early voting states drew a sharply negative reaction Friday night from the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Ray Buckley.
“We are disappointed and frankly very surprised that any candidate would launch a campaign for the White House where their path doesn’t run through New Hampshire or any of the other early states,” Mr. Buckley said in a statement. “We are disappointed and frankly very surprised that any candidate would launch a campaign for the White House where their path doesn’t run through New Hampshire or any of the other early states,” Mr. Buckley said.
Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, criticized Mr. Bloomberg for spurning the circuit of early states that he said “makes candidates and their campaigns better prepared for a general election fight.” Iowa voters, he said, “kick the tires and ask the hard questions.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers are preparing to meet several other upcoming filing deadlines, including in Arkansas. It was not clear on Friday night if Mr. Bloomberg still planned to file paperwork by next Friday to qualify for the New Hampshire primary, as he originally intended.Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers are preparing to meet several other upcoming filing deadlines, including in Arkansas. It was not clear on Friday night if Mr. Bloomberg still planned to file paperwork by next Friday to qualify for the New Hampshire primary, as he originally intended.
As part of their overtures to key Democratic Party leaders, aides to Mr. Bloomberg reached out on Thursday to the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker, to notify Mr. Schumer of his intentions, an aide to Mr. Schumer said. But the details of Mr. Bloomberg’s plans appeared to be coming together at the last minute: Even some of his longtime allies said they had been blindsided by Mr. Bloomberg’s sudden move to enter the race, and his advisers were reaching out to assemble staff for a presidential campaign even as Mr. Bloomberg was entering his final deliberations. Many of the details of Mr. Bloomberg’s plans appeared to be coming together at the last minute. Even some of his longtime allies said they had been blindsided by Mr. Bloomberg’s sudden move to enter the race, and his advisers were reaching out to assemble staff for a presidential campaign even as Mr. Bloomberg was entering his final deliberations.
Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia who has long been close to Mr. Bloomberg, said word of Mr. Bloomberg’s intentions had taken him by surprise on Thursday night. He said he had spoken to Mr. Bloomberg’s camp and come away convinced that Mr. Bloomberg was “serious about running.”Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia who has long been close to Mr. Bloomberg, said word of Mr. Bloomberg’s intentions had taken him by surprise on Thursday night. He said he had spoken to Mr. Bloomberg’s camp and come away convinced that Mr. Bloomberg was “serious about running.”
Mr. Nutter, who has been supporting Mr. Biden said he had not yet thought through the implications of Mr. Bloomberg’s entry for his own involvement in the race.Mr. Nutter, who has been supporting Mr. Biden said he had not yet thought through the implications of Mr. Bloomberg’s entry for his own involvement in the race.
“I have not, in less than 24 hours, played anything out,” Mr. Nutter said, adding, “I think all the other candidates will take him seriously.” “I think all the other candidates will take him seriously,” Mr. Nutter said.
Mr. Bloomberg’s consideration of a 2020 bid reflects the fluidity of a Democratic race with no dominant front-runner, and a broader anxiety within the Democratic Party’s donor class and centrist establishment about whether the current leaders in the primary are capable of defeating Mr. Trump.
Party officials and donors have been talking privately for weeks about whether the one-time front-runner, Mr. Biden, will have the money to finance a complex multistate primary and whether Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are too liberal to win the general election.
Mr. Biden, who appeared to have the most to lose from the sudden entry of a prominent centrist with unlimited financial resources, spoke guardedly to reporters in New Hampshire about that possibility on Friday. He called Mr. Bloomberg an “honorable guy” and deflected a reporter’s question about whether Mr. Bloomberg, who was elected mayor of New York City as a Republican and became a Democrat only last year, could be considered an authentic member of the party.Mr. Biden, who appeared to have the most to lose from the sudden entry of a prominent centrist with unlimited financial resources, spoke guardedly to reporters in New Hampshire about that possibility on Friday. He called Mr. Bloomberg an “honorable guy” and deflected a reporter’s question about whether Mr. Bloomberg, who was elected mayor of New York City as a Republican and became a Democrat only last year, could be considered an authentic member of the party.
“Michael’s a solid guy, and let’s see where it goes. I have no, no problem with him getting in the race,” Mr. Biden said in New Hampshire, adding, “Last polls I looked at, I’m pretty far ahead.”“Michael’s a solid guy, and let’s see where it goes. I have no, no problem with him getting in the race,” Mr. Biden said in New Hampshire, adding, “Last polls I looked at, I’m pretty far ahead.”
As reporters nudged him to go on, and Mr. Biden appeared willing to answer, his aides cut off the exchange, shouting to the assembled press, “Guys, we’ve got to go!” Advisers to Mr. Biden have argued in private that Mr. Bloomberg should not be overestimated as a threat to the former vice president, because he may struggle to appeal to the African-American voters and working-class whites who make up most of Mr. Biden’s political base.
Mr. Bloomberg, who is one of the country’s richest men, has his own vulnerabilities, such as his support for stop-and-frisk policing and charter schools, and his opposition to liberal economic policies that involve taxing large private fortunes and breaking up banks and other big corporations.Mr. Bloomberg, who is one of the country’s richest men, has his own vulnerabilities, such as his support for stop-and-frisk policing and charter schools, and his opposition to liberal economic policies that involve taxing large private fortunes and breaking up banks and other big corporations.
But advisers to Mr. Bloomberg, 77, say he is also concerned that Mr. Biden may not be strong enough to win the nomination, and he believes that Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders are too liberal to defeat Mr. Trump. President Trump, for his part, did not sound concerned about Mr. Bloomberg on Friday morning. Mr. Trump noted that Mr. Bloomberg would spend a lot of money on a campaign and predicted he would damage Mr. Biden in the process. Speaking in the terms of derision he usually applies to political rivals, Mr. Trump said without elaborating that Mr. Bloomberg had “personal problems” and applied a derisive nickname.
The president, for his part, did not sound concerned about Mr. Bloomberg on Friday morning. Mr. Trump noted that Mr. Bloomberg would spend a lot of money on a campaign and predicted he would damage Mr. Biden in the process. Speaking in the terms of derision he usually applies to political rivals, Mr. Trump said without elaborating that Mr. Bloomberg had “personal problems” and applied a derisive nickname.
“There’s nobody I’d rather run against than little Michael,” Mr. Trump said.“There’s nobody I’d rather run against than little Michael,” Mr. Trump said.
Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have already begun to take on Mr. Bloomberg more assertively, both emailing their supporters to warn that a prominent billionaire was seeking to — as they put it — buy the presidency. “The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared,” Mr. Sanders tweeted on Thursday evening, without mentioning Mr. Bloomberg by name.Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have already begun to take on Mr. Bloomberg more assertively, both emailing their supporters to warn that a prominent billionaire was seeking to — as they put it — buy the presidency. “The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared,” Mr. Sanders tweeted on Thursday evening, without mentioning Mr. Bloomberg by name.
Campaigning in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday, Ms. Warren avoided attacking Mr. Bloomberg directly but told reporters that a candidacy funded from personal wealth would not produce “a government that works for the people.”Campaigning in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday, Ms. Warren avoided attacking Mr. Bloomberg directly but told reporters that a candidacy funded from personal wealth would not produce “a government that works for the people.”
“I don’t think that big money ought to be able to buy our elections, and that’s true whether we’re talking about billionaires or corporate executives that fund PACs or big lobbyists,” Ms. Warren said.“I don’t think that big money ought to be able to buy our elections, and that’s true whether we’re talking about billionaires or corporate executives that fund PACs or big lobbyists,” Ms. Warren said.
In a sign of the pressure Mr. Bloomberg may face to begin campaigning quickly, the Democratic state chairmen in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold nominating contests, issued a joint statement on Friday strongly suggesting that Mr. Bloomberg should plan to make himself available to voters there soon. Mr. Bloomberg initially decided last winter that he would not challenge Mr. Trump in 2020, in large part because he concluded he could not win the Democratic nomination with Mr. Biden in the race, as a formidable standard-bearer for the party’s moderate wing. But Mr. Biden’s struggles in recent months have given Mr. Bloomberg new optimism that there is space for him in the campaign.
Mr. Buckley, the New Hampshire chairman, and Troy Price, the Iowa chairman, noted that the primary field included “so many qualified candidates” with progressive ideas — a nod to the number of candidates who have already been working over the early states for many months.
“We are certain that Granite Staters, Iowans and other early state voters are eager to ask Michael Bloomberg about his plans to move our states and our country forward,” their statement said. “We hope that they will have that opportunity.”
Mr. Bloomberg has seriously explored running for president at least three times — in 2008 and 2016 as an independent, and earlier this year as a Democrat — but in every case he opted against mounting a campaign. He has never before taken the step of actually filing paperwork to designate himself a candidate.
He initially decided last winter that he would not challenge Mr. Trump in 2020, in large part because he concluded he could not win the Democratic nomination with Mr. Biden in the race, as a formidable standard-bearer for the party’s moderate wing. But Mr. Biden’s struggles in recent months have given Mr. Bloomberg new optimism that there is space for him in the campaign.
There is considerable skepticism among the leading Democratic candidates about Mr. Bloomberg’s path forward in a 2020 primary. A centrist business mogul in his eighth decade, he would be seeking to lead a party focused on questions of economic inequality, cultural diversity and generational change. (The 2020 field already has several candidates in their 70s: Mr. Sanders is 78, Mr. Biden is 76, Mr. Trump is 73 and Ms. Warren is 70.)There is considerable skepticism among the leading Democratic candidates about Mr. Bloomberg’s path forward in a 2020 primary. A centrist business mogul in his eighth decade, he would be seeking to lead a party focused on questions of economic inequality, cultural diversity and generational change. (The 2020 field already has several candidates in their 70s: Mr. Sanders is 78, Mr. Biden is 76, Mr. Trump is 73 and Ms. Warren is 70.)
The news of his revived interest in the race drew scorn from several leading Democrats, including Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, who branded him a billionaire seeking to buy the presidency to protect his own interests. But unlike the rest, Mr. Bloomberg has never run a political campaign outside New York City, and he has neither a sweeping progressive platform, like Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, nor a famous friendship with the first black president, like Mr. Biden, to excite the Democratic base.
A political nomad with respect to party affiliation, Mr. Bloomberg was elected mayor three times on the Republican ticket before he registered as a Democrat during the midterm elections and spent more than $100 million to help the party take control of the House of Representatives.A political nomad with respect to party affiliation, Mr. Bloomberg was elected mayor three times on the Republican ticket before he registered as a Democrat during the midterm elections and spent more than $100 million to help the party take control of the House of Representatives.
He holds liberal views on a range of important issues including gun control, climate change, immigration and abortion rights but he is more conservative on issues related to the economy and law enforcement, and his record in government and business is ripe for intensive scrutiny. Former Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a moderate who has endorsed Mr. Biden, said he believed Mr. Bloomberg had the potential to cut into Mr. Biden’s electoral coalition.
“I very much would like to see Joe Biden be president, but if Mike Bloomberg was the nominee of the Democratic Party, would I be disappointed?” Mr. Kerrey said. “Not in the slightest.”
Other supporters of Mr. Biden were more dismissive.
“There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of him getting the nomination,” said John Morgan, a Florida trial lawyer who is raising money for Mr. Biden. “He’s a Republican billionaire.”
Alexander Burns reported from New York and Katie Glueck from Concord, N.H. Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting from Raleigh, N.C.