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Welcome to the Race, Michael

The first polls released since Bloomberg’s entry into the race showed lukewarm support

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D

oes Michael Bloomberg’s entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential race herald a shake-up? Or will it be regarded as a pointless exercise that hurts the Democrats more than it helps them?

Bloomberg’s logic for running is clear enough: The race is wide open. The front runner, former vice president Joe Biden, is losing ground as doubts are raised over his fitness for the job. Meanwhile, support for progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders now combine to total 50 percent, but many of their views are far outside the mainstream.

This isn’t the first time Bloomberg has flirted with a presidential run. He considered it in 2016, and gave it serious attention again this year before announcing in March that he would not run. But now that Joe Biden looks vulnerable, Bloomberg has likely concluded that an equally moderate but more charismatic candidate like himself could pose a real threat to President Trump

Is he right?

Bloomberg’s late entry into the contest will hurt him. Warren, Sanders, and Biden have set up nationwide campaign operations with dedicated staff and volunteers. It’s true Bloomberg has almost unlimited resources (and he’s already announced he would skip the early primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire) but building up an effective ground operation takes time. Does Bloomberg have the time to build a real campaign? Can generous spending on advertisements make up for his disadvantage?


Son of an Immigrant

Bloomberg was born in Boston in 1942 to a kosher-observing, middle-class Jewish family. The son of a Polish immigrant accountant and a secretary, he studied engineering at John Hopkins University and earned an MBA at Harvard. At 24, he took his first job at the Wall Street investment bank Salomon Brothers, where he rose to partner. Fifteen years later, he founded the company that would become Bloomberg LP, a world leader in financial data and a major news provider. He was previously married and has two daughters, Georgina and Emma.

In 2001, just weeks after 9/11, Bloomberg was elected mayor of New York City, going on to serve three consecutive terms, running as a Republican even though he was a lifelong Democrat.


The Environmentalist Billionaire

With a personal fortune estimated at $50 billion, Bloomberg is considered a moderate on fiscal issues, far from the socialist positions of Warren and Sanders. He represents a more centrist voice in the party. Bloomberg is a dedicated environmentalist who has reportedly donated more than $100 million toward the cause.

A lifelong New Yorker, Bloomberg is considered a personal rival of Donald Trump — and Trump isn’t particularly fond of Bloomberg. Commenting on the former mayor’s entry into the race, Trump baited him last week as “little Michael” and said that “he became just a nothing” after his mayoral term.


Israel and the Jewish Community

Bloomberg has expressed support for the State of Israel. At the height of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, he flew his private plane to Israel to protest the decision of the American government to ban flights into Ben-Gurion Airport. At the time, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for Bloomberg’s visit, calling him “both a friend and a man of principles and truth.”

The New York Jewish community, however, will best remember Mayor Bloomberg for a regulation he advocated in 2012 that requires parents to consent before a bris involving metzitzah b’peh is performed. He soon after told a journalist that it took a lot of courage to pass such an ordinance, since “who wants to have 10,000 guys in black hats outside your office, screaming?”


Does He Have a Chance?

The first polls released since his entry into the race showed lukewarm support. A Morning Consult poll found that just 4% view him as their first choice, and that he is the least liked of all the Democratic contenders. He is hoping that buying millions of dollars in advertising will change this view.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 785)

 

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