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Billionaire Michael Bloomberg could face a steep climb in the 2020 presidential race

Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Michael R. Bloomberg is flirting once again with a run for president, but all signs point to a steep challenge for the billionaire and former New York City mayor if he makes a late entry into the race for the Democratic nomination.

At a time when some Democrats are yearning for a new generation of leaders, Bloomberg, 77, would be among the oldest contenders, wedged between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 76.

Bloomberg is a former Wall Street investment banker who would be joining the race when a top concern for many Democrats is growing wealth and income inequality.

His 12-year mayoral record could also make him unpopular among some of the party's core constituencies, especially blacks turned off by his support of police "stop and frisk" tactics. A federal judge struck down the policy in a 2013 ruling that found the city was violating the constitutional rights of minorities.

"He's got a mountain to climb here," said Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan campaign analyst. "It's not to say he can't climb it. But it's not as though Elijah is coming to run for the Democratic nomination. He ought to be treated as a kind of longshot candidate who has some assets, but is a long way from jumping into this race and suddenly becoming the front-runner."

In the latest USC-Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, only 4% of Democratic voters were dissatisfied with their choices in the primary contest.


Bloomberg's move to get on the Alabama primary ballot by the Friday deadline keeps his options open. He plans to submit papers next week for Arkansas' nominating contest.

The former mayor "would be able to take the fight to Trump and win," Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Bloomberg, said Thursday on Twitter. He noted Bloomberg had spent more than $100 million to help elect Democrats to Congress in last year's midterm election, when they gained control of the House.

"We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated -- but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that," Wolfson tweeted.

Trump mocked Bloomberg in remarks to reporters outside the White House on Friday, noting they've known each other for years and that a campaign by the former mayor would hurt Biden in the Democratic contest.


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