All the times Bloomberg has been the wrong candidate

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg

All the times Bloomberg has been the wrong candidate

A timeline of all the election cycles the former mayor considered running for president.
September 17, 2018

Michael Bloomberg, the former three-term mayor of New York City who has repeatedly been a rumored potential independent candidate for president, is considering a campaign in 2020 – but this time as a Democrat. In June, the New York Post reported that the multi-billionaire media executive is mulling a Democratic primary bid. On Friday, in an interview with The New York Times after a gun-control event in Seattle, Bloomberg divulged that he now believes only a major-party nominee can win the presidency.

Bloomberg, 76, was elected mayor of New York as a Republican and later as an independent by heavily outspending his opponents. But, prior to beginning his political career, he was a registered Democrat. He has given to and endorsed candidates from both parties in the past, but more often to Democrats than Republicans.

He told the Times that he couldn’t see himself running for president as a Republican because of his former party’s current stance on social issues, such as abortion rights and gun control, and therefore his path to the high office is only feasible as a Democrat. To run as a Democrat, however, he would have to change his party registration. His stance on some issues, such as hawkish foreign policy views and opposition to financial regulation, would play poorly with much of the Democratic base.

Still, the smart money is on Bloomberg not running at all. This campaign cycle will be the fourth in which he has reportedly considered running and he never has pulled the trigger before. Here’s a timeline of Bloomberg’s past presidential aspirations:

2008 campaign:

In 2007, the Republican mayor switched his registration to independent. During the 2008 election cycle, he reportedly played with the idea of running for president as an independent. Despite publicly denying that he held presidential aspirations, rumors continued to gain traction in the media. In early 2008, two veteran political consultants, one a Republican and one a Democrat, formed the Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg to recruit Bloomberg to run for president. The independent committee contended that Bloomberg’s name recognition, independent political affiliations and large personal fortune made him well positioned to run as an independent.

In February of 2008, Bloomberg wrote an op-ed in the Times entitled “I’m Not Running for President, but ...” In the article, he encouraged breaking away from partisanship and striving for unity.

Sources close to the then-mayor said he decided not to run after the major parties nominated candidates – John McCain and Barack Obama – who were relatively appealing to independent voters, narrowing his already difficult path to victory.

2012 campaign:

During the 2012 election, there was again speculation that Bloomberg would announce his candidacy. And in late 2010, the Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg announced it would again attempt to persuade Bloomberg to mount a presidential run in 2012.  

In November 2012, Bloomberg penned an op-ed for Bloomberg View endorsing President Barack Obama. Reportedly, he previously indicated in private he believed Romney would be better at running the country, but added that he disagreed with Romney on too many social issues. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Bloomberg cited the president’s policies on climate change – and the GOP’s climate science denial – in his endorsement of Obama.

2016 campaign:

In early 2016, amid an already chaotic race, Bloomberg for the first time confirmed he was thinking of running for president. After four months of discreetly building a foundation from which to launch his campaign as an independent, he announced he would not be running, again in an op-ed on Bloomberg’s website. He wrote that “an independent candidacy would split the Electoral College and allow Congress to elect an extremist” in the form of Donald Trump. He admitted that while he believed he could win some states, it would not be enough to win the necessary Electoral College votes. Bloomberg feared that in a three-way race a candidate would not win a majority of Electoral College votes, the decision would be thrown to Congress, and “party loyalists in Congress – not the American people or the Electoral College – would determine the next president.” Bloomberg’s analysis foreshadowed his current statements that he would run only as a Democrat. By recognizing that his views are closer to the Democratic Party’s and that he would compete only in blue or purple states, Bloomberg saw that an independent campaign would actually help the party and candidate he is farther from ideologically.  


This year, Bloomberg has aligned himself with Democrats in the midterm elections by pledging $80 million to Democratic congressional campaigns in an effort to flip the House of Representatives.

According to the Times, Democratic leaders and many of the people closest to Bloomberg are skeptical that he will actually go through with it. He’s never actually gone through with staging a campaign for president.

Currently, he maintains his position that he’s focusing on his interests in the midterm elections, and after Nov. 6, he’ll “take a look at it.”

Jordan Laird
is an editorial intern at City & State.