Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Politico tells us that Mike Bloomberg has a message for the rest of the 2020 Democratic field: My bankroll weighs a ton.
Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg is preparing to spend at least $500 million from his own pocket to deny President Donald Trump a second term, according to Democratic operatives briefed on his plans....

“That’ll get us through the first few months,” Kevin Sheekey, a top adviser to the former New York mayor, told POLITICO when asked about the $500 million plan, which is just 1 percent of Bloomberg’s estimated net worth.

“Mike spent $100 million in his last New York City election. And you can do the math as you think more broadly but New York City is 3 percent of the national population,” Sheekey said.
What Sheekey neglects to mention is that the $100 million outlay almost didn't work:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pulled out a narrow re-election victory on Tuesday, as voters angry over his maneuver to undo the city’s term limits law and his extravagant campaign spending provided an unexpected lift to his vastly underfinanced challenger, William C. Thompson Jr.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, unofficial returns showed Mr. Bloomberg with 51 percent and Mr. Thompson with 46 percent....

The billionaire mayor had poured $90 million of his own fortune into the race, a sum without equal in the history of municipal politics that gave him a 14-to-1 advantage in campaign spending.
That's a 2009 story from The New York Times, which later said that Bloomberg spent $102 million. ("And the $102 million tab is likely to rise, because the mayor has not yet doled out postelection bonuses to campaign workers, which have routinely exceeded $100,000 a person in years past.")

William Thompson, Bloomberg's opponent, was uncharismatic as well as underfunded, and, as the Times noted, he didn't run a great campaign:
His press releases misspelled his own name; his aides groused about their jobs on Facebook; and his media team was so short on cash that it resorted to running 15-second blink-and-you-miss-it TV commercials.
Yet he came within five points of a mayor who spent nine figures to win and who had a 63% favorable rating in the city, according to a Quinnipiac poll taken just before the election.

So in the Democratic presidential primaries, don't assume that Bloomberg's money will automatically make him a contender against well-funded, well-liked candidates, most of whom have positions on the issues that are more compatible with those of the party electorate than his. Also, he's a septuagenarian white male in a party that values diversity and would probably like to see a fresh face.

The Politico story says Bloomberg has a fallback plan:
If Bloomberg declines to seek the presidency, his intention is to run an unprecedented data-heavy campaign designed to operate as a shadow political party for the eventual Democratic nominee.

... Bloomberg has assembled a political team that, since late November, has been meeting at least once weekly in the Manhattan headquarters of Bloomberg Philanthropies to consider what some aides have called “Plan A” and “Plan B.”

Plan A is straightforward: Bloomberg runs for president as a Democrat.... According to Plan B, Bloomberg uses all the data — ranging from meticulously researched profiles of voters to polling data on the top issues that move the electorate — and field staff to help the otherwise-outgunned Democratic Party nominee to end Trump’s presidency.
I assume Plan B comes with an asterisk: If the Democratic nominee isn't to Bloomberg's liking (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren), he'll withhold his money and data. He wants to beat Trump, but not with a socialist, for heaven's sake.

I'd like to believe that a Democrat could win with or without Bloomberg's cash and analytics. However, I think most of the candidates would be afraid to refuse his help. Billionaires -- you can't get real change with 'em and you might not be able to win without 'em.

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