After being discussed as a potential candidate in each of the 2008, 2012 and 2016 races, billionaire businessman, philanthropist and political activist Michael Bloomberg has finally declared his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election — after earlier this year saying he wouldn’t run.
Bloomberg’s late entry into the Democratic presidential party comes amid the ascendence of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal U.S. senator from Massachusetts, and the perceived underperformance of the comparatively moderate Joe Biden, the former vice president. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, like Bloomberg, also waited until the 11th hour to declare his presidential ambitions.
Despite leaving office as New York City’s mayor in 2013, Bloomberg has unreservedly used his personal wealth, his super PAC and his connections to help advance political and social causes important to him. Whether it’s about gun violence, the environment, soda sizes or police and racial issues, Bloomberg has rarely hesitated to wade into the political fracas.
Here’s more on Bloomberg’s political and financial history:
- Despite once identifying as a Democrat, Bloomberg first ran for mayor in 2001 as a Republican. In 2007, Bloomberg registered as an independent, and since leaving office, he has once again registered as a Democrat.
- Independence USA, Bloomberg’s super PAC, spent more than $37.5 million to help the Democrats take back Congress in 2018. About $28 million was used in support of Democratic candidates, and the rest was spent in opposition to Republican candidates.
- In the 2018 election cycle alone, Bloomberg donated almost $60 million to his Independence USA PAC. He also contributed to the campaigns of fellow Democrats by stumping and donating directly, like he did for Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for Florida governor, who ultimately lost his race.
- Much like his party registration, Bloomberg has played both sides of the aisle when making campaign contributions. He has donated millions of dollars to various political committees, including the campaigns of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and the late former Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Bloomberg has also contributed to the campaigns of Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
- Bloomberg’s record of addressing public health issues has prompted detractors to brand him as an agent of the “nanny state.”
- Bloomberg helped launch Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that strives to reduce the number of gun-related deaths each year. Co-founded by Bloomberg, the group often funds ad campaigns to advocate for firearm regulation. Its affiliated super PAC, Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund, spent almost $3.6 million boosting its preferred Democratic congressional candidates during the 2018 midterms.
- According to Forbes, Bloomberg is currently worth $44.6 billion. He co-founded his eponymous financial news organization, Bloomberg LP, in 1981, and he still retains an 88 percent stake in the company.
- About that: Bloomberg has gone on the record saying he would sell his company or put it under the control of a blind trust if he were to actually win the presidential election, either of which follow the precedent set by previous winners. Bloomberg’s media ownership is cause for concern among some Bloomberg News political journalists. Bloomberg said during a radio interview that he wanted them to avoid covering his race, in the hopes of diminishing negative press coverage.
- Bloomberg recently donated $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to finance student financial aid packages. This supplements the more than $1.5 billion he had previously donated to fund research, professorships and scholarships.
Sources: Center for Public Integrity reporting, the New York Times, Slate, Forbes.com, the New Yorker, Business Insider, The Atlantic, Instagram, CNN, Everytown.org, HuffPost, The Guardian, the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, CNBC.com, OpenSecrets.org.