The 2020 candidacy race for the Democratic party has been full of intriguing division, delivering on the classic political pageantry that this country has been used to every election cycle. While this campaign trail has had some surprises, such as the emergence of Pete Buttigieg, perhaps no more is as shocking as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign in this race. While he hasn’t stated anything outrageous (at least not in his campaign trail), his campaign is considered a trailblazing one due to the exorbitant amount of money that has been spent in his campaign, which is at about $386 million, according to CNN. What makes the money interesting, however, is where it is coming from. It is Bloomberg’s own money.
If you’ve been on YouTube or watched any sort of TV in the past month, you’ve probably seen a Michael Bloomberg advertisement. That’s what $61 billion dollars of personal wealth can help do. It can also hire the most staffers out of any campaign, with over 1,000 staffers from 30 states. Democrats aren’t necessarily pleased or used to a billionaire using their own wealth to win the candidacy.
“Well, you buy the presidency -- at least he’s going to try to buy the presidency -- by spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on TV ads," said Senator Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Carson City, Nevada Sunday. The only candidate close to even matching Bloomberg’s almost $400 million in campaign expenses is billionaire Tom Steyer, who almost cracked $200 million. However, every other candidate is not a billionaire. Although citizen contributions plus contributions from other avenues may help, they don’t even begin to reach the magnitude that Bloomberg’s own wealth has reached which, is proving to be super effective.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll Bloomberg stands at 15%, which is a substantial increase from the initial 3% he was in November when he first made his intentions known to run for president. He is by all accounts and purposes a serious contender in this race, but it is not only the stigma of a pompous billionaire that Bloomberg has to fight against.
Over the past month or so there have been videos of Bloomberg using racist and sexist rhetoric in the past. For example, a 2015 Aspen institute audio clip of Bloomberg surfaced defending his “stop and frisk” policy in New York, which was essentially a pass for police officers to stop and temporarily detain anyone they felt was “suspicious.” Many of them were African Americans and Latinos particularly males.
"People say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana who are all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that's true. Why'd we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you should get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them," said Bloomberg at the 2015 convention. Democrat candidates, particularly Sanders, did not forgo the chance to use this as ammunition against Bloomberg.
Sanders has not only challenged Bloomberg on his stop and frisk policy, but also Bloomberg’s unfavorable stance on raising the minimum wage and supporting cuts on government programs. “Imagine a multibillionaire opposing a raise in the minimum wage. Imagine a multibillionaire asking for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” Sanders stated to a crowd in Richmond, Virginia last Monday.
Michael Bloomberg’s campaign has emerged as a dark horse over the past two months, surging in the polls. His essentially never-ending campaign fund has done the job that some of the other candidates have struggled to do- get Bloomberg’s name known by more Americans by constant advertisements and support from others in the Democratic establishment.
The minority vote, particularly those in New York, still hold distrust for Bloomberg, especially for his application of Stop and Frisk and the past distasteful rhetoric. With candidates like Sanders feeling like Bloomberg is “buying” the election, he may be the candidate the party may fear winning the most.