Michael Bloomberg moves to enter the 2020 race for president

Michael Bloomberg moves to enter the 2020 race for president
David Berkowitz https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Election '20

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now preparing to enter the 2020 Democratic race for president, multiple reports revealed on Thursday.

The New York Times was first to report the move as Bloomberg's staff are rushing to secure him the needed signatures to qualify for the Alabama Democratic primary, which has a fast-approaching filing deadline. The Associated Press reported that he said the current Democratic field is "not well-positioned" to defeat President Donald Trump in the general election.

But it's far from clear that, even if this were true, Bloomberg would be the solution. His political history is not an easy fit for the modern Democratic Party. During his time as mayor, he oversaw widespread use of the controversial and discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy. Police officers disproportionately stopped young men of color for essentially random searches on the streets of the city, which many argued was a policy consisting of gross violations of civil rights. The policy was defended as necessary for the safety of the city, but once it was rolled back and searches dropped dramatically, crime in the city continued to fall, completely discrediting stop-and-frisk advocates like Bloomberg.

His apparent fear that the current set of Democratic candidates are ill-suited to beating Trump seems to rest on chronic anxieties among Democrats, which tend to derive from an over-inflated sense of the president's electoral strength and talents. It's also, inevitably, tied up with the criticism Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has faced from billionaires and the wealthy in recent weeks for her advocacy of policies targeting economic inequality. Bloomberg himself is a billionaire.

And he seems to see himself as a moderate savior of the Democratic Party. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has long led polls of the Democratic primary electorate, has been seen as the favorite of moderates thus far. But many fear there are growing signs that his candidacy is weak, thus emboldening his leading competitors to his left: Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

It's far from clear, though, that Bloomberg jumping in the race is a smart idea, even for those who share his concerns about Warren and Sanders. There are other perceived moderates in the race — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) — but they've yet to catch fire. It's not obvious that Bloomberg has a better chance of taking off than they do. And even if he were to gain momentum in the race, it seems most likely that he'd just split support for Biden, which could actually strengthen Warren and Sanders' chances at winning the nomination.

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