The wildest theory about Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 run is that he doesn’t really want to win

By Lydia Dishman

As if the field of Democratic presidential hopefuls weren’t crowded enough, Michael Bloomberg, billionaire mogul and former mayor of New York City, has also thrown his hat into the ring.

Accompanying the bid is much speculation about why Bloomberg waited this long to run, and why he’s even running at all. Among them:

    The “Beat Bernie” Theory: Bernie Sanders’s campaign newsletter, penned by his speechwriter David Sirota, proclaims that “Bloomberg is running against Bernie, not Trump,” in today’s edition. It offers the following “clues that suggest Bloomberg’s campaign’s first and foremost mission is to stop Bernie,” including the decision to announce when Sanders’s poll numbers are rising (as he did in 2016) and that he’s being egged on by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, both of whom are claimed to be nemeses to Sanders.

    The “Brokered Convention” Theory: Alex Pareene of the New Republic suggests that both Bloomberg and another late-to-the-party contender, Deval Patrick, are “not mere long shots, or attempts to harm Sanders or Warren on behalf of the moderates. They are calculated bets on a brokered convention.” For the uninitiated, this is what happens when there’s no majority vote for a nominee when the party’s delegates vote for the first time. If that occurs, “delegates are then permitted to vote for whichever candidate they choose, allowing for input from party leadership and political maneuvering,” according to

    The “Warning to Progressives” Theory: Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine‘s Intelligencer believes the more “realistic scenario is that Deval Patrick vanishes without a trace after New Hampshire, and Bloomberg becomes simply a giant dollar sign representing a warning to progressives that they’d better not get too carried away with their attacks on the financial sector and other wealthy pockets of ‘centrist’ sentiment.”

    The “Never Trump” Theory: Then there’s the Twitter thread from Ira H. Goldman, a former aide to former governor and U.S. Senator Pete Wilson, in which he suggests that Bloomberg’s true motive is not becoming the next president, but defeating the current one. Goldman explains how Bloomberg’s ad spend could mount an effective counterattack on Trump. CNN reported that Bloomberg planned to spend $100 million “on an anti-Donald Trump ad blitz in key 2020 battleground states.” Goldman says that if this is the case, Bloomberg would need to run the ads as the “Committee to elect Bloomberg” in order to ensure that they get air time without editing, versus ads that would be under the “Committee to defeat Trump.”

So which is it? One of these? A combination? Or none at all? We reached out to Bloomberg’s campaign for comment and will update this post if we hear back.


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