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Democrats are skeptical of Michael Bloomberg’s potential 2020 run

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President Barack Obama with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2016.
President
Barack Obama with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in
2016.

Drew Angerer/Getty
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  • Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York,
    is considering a run for the presidency in 2020 as a centrist
    Democrat, despite an energized left wing and a crowded
    field.  
  • Many Democratic strategists say Bloomberg has no path to
    victory. 
  • “It’s hard to imagine someone more out of touch with the
    Democratic base,” said one operative. 

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul and former New
York mayor, is seriously considering a run for the presidency in
2020 as a centrist Democrat, despite an energized left wing and a
crowded field.  

The former Republican, who’s spending $80 million largely on
Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections, has
received a warm welcome into the Democratic fold from party
leaders, but strategists on the left say a presidential bid would
likely be dead on arrival. 

Despite his newfound allegiance to the Democratic Party,
Bloomberg holds an array of positions anathema to the progressive
left.

While an influential champion of gun control and environmental
protection policies, Bloomberg defends stop-and-frisk policing
(ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013), breaks with
progressive Democrats on bank regulation, and believes the
movement against sexual misconduct has gone too far in some
cases, according to
a recent interview
 he did with The New York Times.

The 2020 primary is looking to be a competitive battle for the
left — half a dozen likely presidential contenders in the Senate
have spent the last few years catering to the party’s energized
base with increasingly progressive policy proposals and rhetoric.
Some Democratic operatives say Bloomberg couldn’t be farther from
what progressives are looking for.

“It’s hard to imagine someone more out of touch with the
Democratic base than a billionaire who defends racist policing
tactics, advocates going soft on Wall Street, and dismisses the
significance of the #MeToo movement,” said one New York-based
Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to avoid
jeopardizing relations with fellow Democrats. “Even millions of
dollars couldn’t make those viewpoints palatable to Democratic
voters.”

Other liberal Democrats expressed the same sentiment, in slightly
softer terms. 

“I think it’s great that the Democratic presidential primary is
shaping up to be robust, but at the same time I feel as though he
may not be completely in touch with where the Democratic Party is
right now,” said Carolyn Fiddler, communications director for the
progressive advocacy group Daily Kos.

Bloomberg has long been called out of touch — both on the left
and the right. And this isn’t the first time he’s mulled a
presidential run. He considered running as an independent in 2016
— an idea the GOP laughed off, citing his positions on guns and
abortion as far too liberal to appeal to a primary electorate. He
ultimately decided not to run after determining he had no path to
victory. 

“His trial balloon went over like the Hindenburg,” the Democratic
strategist said.

But others in the party would like a moderate in Bloomberg’s mold
on the general election ticket, although they concede the chances
of that happening are low. 

“In a general election he would do exceptionally well, he would
pull in a lot of independents, he would pull in a lot of
moderates,” said Adrienne Elrod, a former spokeswoman for Hillary
Clinton’s campaign, said of Bloomberg, adding, “The left and
progressives are louder than they’ve ever been. They’re vocal,
they’re energized, they’re motivated, and they want someone whose
ideologies align with theirs.” 

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