Mike Bloomberg, billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York City, has refused financial support for his 2020 bid for the Democratic nomination, leaving him without donors and without clear support from voters. Senator Bernie Sanders, another Democratic presidential candidate, argued, “If you can’t build grassroots support for your candidacy, you have no business running for president.”
Even if Bloomberg isn’t amassing the same public support and donations as Sanders, Bloomberg’s strategies are already convincing voters, including Mississippians, to consider him for the Democrartic nomination for the presidency. I will not be voting for Bloomberg, but I believe he has a strong chance of winning over Mississippi Democrats.
Perhaps the most convincing reason to support or, at least, like Bloomberg comes from the fact that he has pledged to financially support the Democratic nominee, even if it is not him. Even if he doesn’t win Mississippi, there’s still an incentive for people to work on his campaign because, regardless of who the nominee is, it means they’ll be on Bloomberg’s payroll until November.
Not only will his campaign staff have 10 months of job security, but state-level leaders on the Bloomberg campaign are paid $6,000 per month. In a state where the annual median household income is $3,720 per month, Bloomberg’s campaign salary is exciting for any person who’s politically inclined and shares Bloomberg’s goal of getting Donald Trump out of office.
Bloomberg has the funds to campaign in the states where most candidates would judge as too risky to invest time and resources, such as Mississippi, and he also has a history of garnering support from both sides of the aisle. Bloomberg was a life-long Democrat until he registered for the Republican party a year before his first bid for the mayor’s office of New York City. In 2000, the year he was elected, there were five times as many Democrats in New York as there were Republicans. Although Bloomberg’s change in party affiliation may appear as a sign of disloyalty to both parties, the fact that he could capture a Republican stronghold in a liberal-leaning electorate suggests that perhaps he could do the same in Mississippi. His ties with the Republican party might just get him votes in a state that hasn’t turned blue in an electoral college vote since Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976.
In terms of his policies, Bloomberg has prioritized economic and racial justice. For example, in his Greenwood Initiative, which launched at the beginning of the new year, Bloomberg hopes “to help create generational wealth for black Americans, drive economic empowerment and close the economic gap between white and black Americans” by investing $70 billion in 100 disadvantaged communities in the U.S. to increase black homeownership.
Considering Mississippi’s rank as the state with the ninth-worst income inequality, Bloomberg’s policies could strongly appeal to those looking to reduce historical racial discrimination and barriers to economic advancement within the state. However, Bloomberg’s marred criminal justice record in New York might make progressive Democrats halt — Bloomberg’s “Stop-and-Frisk” policy in New York racially profiled millions of young black and Latino men.
If the 2020 presidential race comes down to Bloomberg and Trump, we will have to choose between two candidates who are old, white, elite New York men, bringing one of the most diverse fields of presidential candidates to a standoff between, at a surface level, very similar candidates. However, Bloomberg has targeted his policies to appeal to Southern Democrats and acquired a well-paid team with resources. He has the “electability” quotient to win the Democratic nomination, and because of his ability to appeal to both parties, he has the potential to beat the incumbent president. Bloomberg’s campaign sounds like a joke to some, but when it comes to electing a billionaire to the presidency, stranger things have happened.
Katie Dames is a junior international studies major from St. Louis, Missouri.