Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, after saying in March that he wouldn’t run for president, is backtracking and preparing a potential run for a 2020 bid, a spokesman for the billionaire tells CNN.
Bloomberg is expected to file the necessary paperwork to get on the Democratic primary ballot in Alabama this week, the spokesman said, the clearest sign to date that the former mayor is seriously considering following through with something he has been weighing for weeks.
Despite preparing to file the necessary paperwork in Alabama, Bloomberg has yet to make a final decision on a run, the spokesman added.
Bloomberg’s possible entrance comes as former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign struggles to break out of the Democratic field and as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a liberal lawmaker who has railed against billionaires like Bloomberg, rises in the Democratic primary campaign. A possible Bloomberg bid would be sure to dramatically shake up the Democratic primary process.
The reason Bloomberg is filing in Alabama is strictly because of the state’s early filing deadline. Despite it not being an early nominating state — Alabamans will pick their Democratic nominee on March 3 — the state has a filing deadline on Friday.
Bloomberg has privately expressed concerns about the strength of the 2020 field, according to a person familiar with his thinking. And a Democratic strategist who has previously worked with Bloomberg said the former mayor is reconsidering his options, in part, because of the outcome in this week’s elections in Virginia, where investments from his gun control group helped Democrats win control of the General Assembly.
The billionaire’s decision to lay the groundwork for a run comes as Warren rises in the polls.
“He certainly disagrees with a lot of what she’s put out there,” said the person. “But he thinks she’s smart and has put a lot of thought into her policies.”
Bloomberg has been making calls to a handful of connected Democrats in the last 36 hours, including a handful in Iowa, CNN has learned. Iowa has no specific deadline to be eligible for the state’s caucuses February 3, but campaigns have to designate representatives by the end of the year, a party official said.
A CNN/Des Moines Register poll in March found that Bloomberg was one of the least popular candidates considering running for the Democratic nomination. The poll found 27% of Democratic likely caucus-goers viewed him favourably, compared with 38% who had an unfavourable view.
Bloomberg publicly entertained a 2020 bid earlier this year, traveling the country to meet with voters and determine whether a run was possible. He told reporters during this public speculation that he was seriously considering a bid, to the point that he had decided he would self-fund a campaign.
“In terms of running for office, I ran three times. I used only my own money, so I didn’t have to ask anybody what they wanted in return for a contribution,” he told CNN in January. “The public liked that every time they elected me. And, if I ran again, I would do the same thing.”