Michael Bloomberg, in what may be a move to seize the centrist vote from a faltering Joe Biden, is preparing to file paperwork to enter the 2020 presidential race, the New York Times reported Thursday.
According to the Times, the 77-year-old billionaire and former New York City mayor has not decided definitively that he will run, but it seems likely that he will file paperwork by the end of the week, before Alabama’s deadline for candidates to formally join the race. He has already sent staffers to the state to gather signatures in order to qualify there, according to the Times, and he has reached out to other influential Democrats to let them know he is considering running.
Bloomberg would enter the Democratic field to the right of several of the front-runners. He won his first two races for New York City mayor as a Republican before leaving the party to become an independent in 2007. Notably, Bloomberg championed the stop-and-frisk policing strategy widely criticized for targeting people of color. He has also directly attacked Warren and Sanders as being too progressive, comparing Warren’s proposed wealth tax to Venezuela’s left-wing politics and criticizing Sanders for “extreme partisanship.”
Bloomberg may also find it harder to appeal to Democratic voters in part because of his wealth and establishment connections (likely to be a point of attack from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as well as other more progressive candidates) as well as a number of allegations of sexual harassment and misogynistic comments. More recently, Bloomberg has expressed doubts about the #MeToo movement.
In the past, when he has weighed (though never formally pursued) a presidential candidacy, he filed as an independent. Bloomberg registered as a Democrat just last year. He announced in March that he would not run, apparently because of Biden’s place in the campaign as the dominant centrist candidate.
According to a statement from an adviser, Bloomberg was concerned that the current Democratic candidates are “not well positioned” to defeat Trump.