Fred LaSor: Bloomberg running for president
In a previous column I opined that former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg might soon enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. By the time my column saw the light of day, Bloomberg had indeed announced his candidacy.
The former mayor is said to be the ninth wealthiest man in the United States and the 14th wealthiest in the world, with a net worth of $58 billion. That makes him richer than Donald Trump, and barely richer than Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, who made his money in cell phones in Mexico and Latin America.
Bloomberg’s wealth comes in large part from his publishing business, and that has already created the first incident in his campaign — his decree that Bloomberg News would not cover his campaign. When pushed on the point, the campaign said it would not cover other Democratic candidates in the primary races, but would cover the Trump campaign. The White House subsequently said it would lift press credentials from Bloomberg journalists since their coverage would be one-sided.
Bloomberg’s wealth means he can run without asking for political donations. Unlike other candidates, that means he is not beholden to large donors. On the other hand, that means he cannot qualify to appear in the Democratic debates, entry to which is regulated by requiring candidates to have received a threshold number of donations from a specified number of states. This demonstrates, according to debate organizers, that they are serious candidates.
Another issue with Bloomberg’s candidacy is that he was a registered Republican for two of his New York races, and a registered Independent for his third. There are grumblings in Democratic circles that he is a Democrat of convenience, no different from Bernie Sanders, who is a registered Socialist but caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.
Bloomberg is known to Nevada voters for having spent a massive amount of money here in support of a ballot question in the last election that restricted gun sales in the Silver State. The initiative lost in most of the state but passed in the most populous areas, where Bloomberg’s funding likely made the difference. The new gun law will come into effect in the new year, and although it is unclear how much it will impact gun owners, it is clearly another feel-good liberal law that will do nothing to make us safer. If the former New York mayor campaigns in this state, some enterprising journalist should ask him why he felt compelled to fund this question on our ballot.
The answer is that Bloomberg believes in the power of government to make people do what he thinks is right. One of his signature initiatives in New York was an effort to ban so-called “Big Gulps”– sugary drinks of more than 16 ounces. That was shot down by the courts, but not before the mayor earned criticism for his “nanny-state” tendencies.
A policy he supported in New York that was generally well received was “stop and frisk.” This was an effort to take illegal weapons off the streets by stopping and detaining people who fit a police profile as potential law-breakers. The policy appears to have taken criminals out of circulation and made New York safer, but Bloomberg felt the need two months ago to apologize that his policy was racist. Supporters called his apology “too little, too late” while critics called it pandering. No one appears to think his apology made him a leading contender.
Bloomberg is said to have entered the race because he was underwhelmed by the Democratic field. I agree with that assessment, but don’t think he will still be a candidate after Super Tuesday.
Fred LaSor retired from the foreign service to the Carson Valley 15 years ago.