After weeks of speculation, Michael Bloomberg officially announced on Sunday he will run for U.S. president in the 2020 Democratic primary, despite an earlier statement this year that he would stay out of the race. Unlike former governor Deval Patrick's entrance earlier this month, Bloomberg's sudden entry has the potential to shake up an already crowded primary field even though the first caucuses and elections are just weeks away. Bloomberg is currently the ninth wealthiest individual in the world, a billionaire worth around $58 billion, dwarfing fellow candidate Tom Steyer's $1.6 billion. More importantly, he cofounded Bloomberg LP, a renowned financial services and mass media firm that holds influence across various industries. Bloomberg already spent $31 million on ads in 25 states, a record for a single week.
The 77-year-old Bloomberg was born in Massachusetts to a Jewish middle class family. After attending and graduating from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School, he worked at Salomon Brothers and became a partner at the investment bank in 1973. Salomon was acquired in 1981 and laid him off, and in 1982 he founded the early version of Bloomberg LP. Today the Bloomberg Terminal software system boasts over 325,000 global subscribers. In 2002 Bloomberg became the mayor of New York City, where he won reelection twice and served until 2013. His mayoral tenure was full of controversy, from the use of stop-and-frisk to the ban on large sodas. It also featured balancing the city's budget, corporate tax breaks, and the launch of affordable housing, conditional cash transfer, and public health programs.
Bloomberg's presidential platform offers many planks. His campaign website pledges to creating good-paying jobs, provide quality healthcare for all, stop gun violence, fight climate change, fix the immigration system, raise taxes on the wealthy, protect women's and LGBTQ rights, support veterans, and restore America's place in the world as a force for peace and stability. However, his website does not offer policy details on what kinds of legislation he would support or how he would maneuver bills through Congress. Bloomberg's website touts some of his corporate and mayoral accomplishments including paid family leave, banning smoking in restaurants, improving high school graduation rates, and slashing incarceration and murder rates. He also promises on his website to refuse to take a penny in campaign donations or a presidential salary. Overall, Bloomberg seems to be running as a moderate in the vein of Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg.
As the late outsider candidate, Bloomberg is almost certain to lose the primary. The next debate in December requires 200,000 individual donors and 4% in four national or state polls. But Bloomberg acknowledges he will not qualify for the debate stage. Instead his strategy is to spend up to a hundred million dollars on early state ad buys and grassroots meetings with voters. His late entrance means he will not obtain an opportunity to spar with opponents at debates, but his rivals will likely keep criticizing him. Bloomberg's contentious mayoral record, as well as potential conflict of interest questions around Bloomberg LP and Wall Street, will follow him throughout the campaign. Though he will not win, his fortune means he will be a topic of discussion.