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Who is Michael Bloomberg and will he run for president in 2020?

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Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The billionaire businessman is thought to be seeking the Democratic nomination

In Depth James Ashford
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 3:22pm

Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is preparing a potential run for the US Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

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The former New York City mayor, who is 77, is expected to file paperwork this week to enter the Democratic primary ballot in Alabama, according to his spokesman.

He is reportedly worried that the current Democratic candidates are not good enough to beat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s adviser, said: “We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated,” the BBC reports. 

“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 said.

Who is Michael Bloomberg?

Bloomberg started his post-Harvard career in 1966 as an investment banker at Salomon Brothers, where he reached the level of partner.

He went on to start Innovative Market Systems, as the company now called Bloomberg was originally known, which become a global leader in financial data services.

Bloomberg entered the 2001 race for New York mayor as a Republican, spending more than $68m from his personal fortune and subsequently winning the contest. He won a second term in 2005 and a third in 2009 before coming to the end of his tenure in 2013.

He returned to the Democratic Party in 2018, re-registering as a Democrat and pledging to spend at least $80m to defeat Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

Bloomberg is one of the richest people in the world, worth an estimated $52.4bn, according to Forbes.

Will he run?

His advisers say he is yet to make a final decision. Bloomberg has sent staffers to Alabama to gather signatures so that he could qualify for the primary there, if he decided to run, says The New York Times.

Bloomberg called a number of important Democratic Party figures this week to tell them he was seriously considering entering the race. Among them was former Nevada senator Harry Reid, who said while Bloomberg didn’t explicitly confirm that he would run, the implication of the call was clear.

“It wasn’t just to wish me a good weekend,” Reid said.

Bloomberg has entertained the idea of running for president for years and has prepared to enter presidential races before, only to pull back before putting his name on a state ballot.

Would he win the Democratic nomination?

Bloomberg has the resources to fund the biggest and most expensive campaign in history, and would no doubt deploy that wealth if required to win.

Bloomberg said earlier this year: “In terms of running for office, I ran three times. I used only my own money, so I didn’t have to ask anybody what they wanted in return for a contribution,” he said. “The public liked that every time they elected me. And, if I ran again, I would do the same thing.”

The billionaire would certainly be a threat to former vice-president Joe Biden, whose centrist views are not dissimilar to those of Bloomberg.

But he “would face a difficult path in a Democratic primary largely defined so far by debates about economic inequality”, says the New York Times.

Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren said: “It’s not enough just to have somebody come in, anybody, and say they’re going to buy this election.”

And the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders – a proudly self-declared socialist – said: “More billionaires seeking more political power surely isn’t the change America needs.”

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