Joe Biden’s allies have become increasingly worried that a Mike Bloomberg candidacy could take votes away from the former vice president and assist Sen. Elizabeth Warren win the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bloomberg’s political aides confirmed that he is again contemplating entering the 2020 race, after he decided against it in March. Best Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson said Thursday that the billionaire former New York mayor is “increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well-positioned” to defeat President Donald Trump next year.
Biden told reporters on Friday that he welcomes Bloomberg, a fellow moderate, in the race. Yet several of his fans see the former mayor’s move as possibly providing an edge to Warren, a liberal populist.
“This hurts Biden tremendously,” stated one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s external advisers. Cuomo has encouraged his enormous donor community to back the former vice president. “Even if he doesn’t get it,” this person included, “the whole thing plays that Biden is weak. It cements in people’s minds that Biden can’t make it work.”
Bloomberg is currently gaining the support of individuals on Wall Street, a core source of fundraising for Biden. Billionaire Leon Cooperman endorsed Bloomberg him before he officially jumps to the primary. Biden’s closest supporters mostly agree that Bloomberg and Biden would probably split moderate Republicans in the celebration.
Democratic voters who identify with middle-of-the-road policies are a crucial constituency for Biden’s candidacy. Recent New York Times/ Siena College polls reveal Biden ahead of all of the other candidates in favorability in the crucial battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. That exact surveys show that a vast majority of participants need a moderate candidate and one which will discover common ground with Republicans.
Bernard Schwartz, a Biden supporter and CEO of BLS Investments, stated that Bloomberg’s potential candidacy could give a boost to Warren, who has made targeting billionaires a vital part of her allure.
“I think it takes away from [Warren’s] biggest competitor, and that is Joe Biden. I am not saying Bloomberg is doing it intentionally, but what I believe the outcome is,” he said. “I think Bloomberg was a great mayor, but I think he’s making a mistake. If you have a few billion dollars you can do what you want to do.”
Other Biden fans are doubtful that Bloomberg will really be a viable candidate.
“I see his move as a placeholder until we get clarity on Joe’s viability,” among Biden’s top fundraisers said about Bloomberg’s recent movement. This person spoke on the condition on anonymity to be able to speak freely.
Some Biden fans painted Bloomberg as an indecisive, wavering politician.
“I think it’s ridiculous and I think ultimately, 45 days from now, I don’t think Bloomberg will be a candidate,” said a Wall Street banking executive financing Biden who declined to be named. “Can I remind everyone he was a Republican before he became a Democrat? Can I remind you that the Democratic Party of 2020 is not rallying around billionaires?” this person included.
As mayor of New York, Bloomberg was first a Republican and later became an independent. Bloomberg switched to the Democratic Party a month before last year’s midterm congressional elections.
“He’s like Mario Cuomo or even Hamlet on the Hudson. He’s in, he’s not in. Until I see real proof he’s in then I don’t believe it,” said a lobbyist supporting Biden behind the scenes. Cuomo, the late former New York governor and father of Andrew Cuomo, famously agonized over whether to run for the Democratic nomination at the 1992 race before finally deciding not to.
Agents for Biden and Bloomberg didn’t return a request for comment.
Political strategists from both sides of aisle see a Bloomberg candidacy ultimately damaging Biden. However they also broadly acknowledge the former New York mayor does not have an opportunity to win a primary with powerful candidates, such as democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, pushing policies that are progressive.
“Biden’s doing enough to hurt himself right now. It could accelerate his demise,” Democratic strategy Mary Anne Marsh told CNBC. “I believe Bloomberg’s assumption is faulty. If he can pick up Joe Biden’s fans, [Pete] Buttigieg fans, Kamala Harris fans, Amy Klobuchar fans, Cory Booker’s supporters, those are not transferable,” she added.
“No shot a billionaire who still supports stop-and-frisk wins the Democratic primary. And a third party run would just reelect Trump,” stated Chapin Fay, who had been a media adviser for GOP billionaire and former New York mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.
The stop-and-frisk policy enabled New York police officers to search or detain anybody them deem questionable. Bloomberg defended the strategy earlier this season .
Meanwhile, some Biden fundraisers appear to be shrugging off any impact Bloomberg might have on their candidate’s campaign.
During a conference call Friday with Biden’s top financiers in California, bundlers discussed ways they can begin focusing on trying to siphon donors and fundraisers from Sen. Kamala Harris, according to individuals knowledgeable about the matter. These individuals said Biden financiers are seeking to reach out to Harris’ lead fundraisers in her home state before they get behind Warren.
Bloomberg didn’t come up on the telephone, they added.