Mike Bloomberg gives his concession speech on Wednesday. (Image: Mike Bloomberg 2020)
March 6, 2020 by David Silverberg
Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign may be over but he leaves a legacy in Florida and more specifically, Southwest Florida, that could pay important dividends in the state’s presidential primary on March 17—and in the general election and beyond.
Most immediately, Bloomberg has announced that he is forming a group to support Democratic efforts with offices in six key electoral states that he believes will determine the presidential election, according to The Washington Post.
One of these states is Florida. The others are Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and North Carolina.
As of this writing the group does not have a name pending its trademark application. In addition to supporting Democratic presidential efforts, the new organization could support down-ballot efforts in the US House and Senate. In 2018 Bloomberg gave $20 million to Democratic senatorial candidates and another group he founded, Independence USA, gave $38 million to House candidates.
If the report is correct and the organization does go into operation, it could provide a welcome boost to Florida Democrats.
But Bloomberg’s campaign may have boosted Democratic prospects in the Sunshine State in other ways.
In preparation for the Florida primary, Bloomberg flooded Florida’s airwaves with his campaign ads. In heavily Republican, highly Trumpist Southwest Florida, it was the first time that the region had seen such a blitz of television advertising with a Democratic, anti-Trump message.
Although designed primarily to elect Bloomberg, that advertising also laid the groundwork for future Democratic efforts, the first time a Democratic message was broadcast to broad swaths of people that include disaffected Republicans, Independents and non-party affiliated voters.
Bloomberg also opened 10 offices around Florida and these may now be used by the Biden campaign or Democrats in general. If they’re kept in operation past the primary they could serve a useful function in the general election campaign against Trump.
Commentary: The Bloomberg legacy
In the wake of his failed and very expensive presidential bid, it is not fashionable in the Democratic/liberal/leftist/progressive community to speak any praises of Michael Bloomberg. The comics have mocked him and pundits and former opponents are piling on—and that’s just among Democrats. President Donald Trump in his inimitable style has had to add undisguised gloating and personal insults based on physical appearance.
However, if objective American history is written after the 2020 election, historians are likely to be kinder to Bloomberg than his contemporaries. It’s worth standing back a moment to consider why.
Bloomberg understood the threat of Trump and Trumpism from the beginning—and fought the man and his madness.
Back in 2016, in his speech endorsing Hillary Clinton for president before the Democratic National Convention, Bloomberg warned that Trump was “a dangerous demagogue,” that “the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy” and in his most memorable line said: “I’m a New Yorker and New Yorkers know a con when we see one!”
Bloomberg never stopped fighting Trumpism, even in his supposed retirement from politics after his third term as mayor of New York City.
While critics accuse Bloomberg of trying to buy the election, it’s worth remembering the situation when Bloomberg got into the race last November. Things were falling apart and the center could not hold, to use words from William Butler Yeats. Conventional wisdom was that former Vice President Joe Biden could not win the Democratic primary elections and Sen. Elizabeth Warren could not win the general election. The Democratic Party seemed set on a course that would lose the election to Donald Trump.
It was to provide a candidate who could bolster the moderate center and attract anti-Trumpers of all persuasions and most importantly, save democracy and defeat Trump that Bloomberg got into the race.
In his concession speech on Wednesday, March 4, Bloomberg acknowledged that the situation had changed. “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald’s Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it,” he said. “And after yesterday’s vote is clear, that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”
During his campaign Bloomberg kept the focus on the main threat, Donald Trump. He gave back on Twitter as good as he got from IMPOTUS and he concentrated his fire on the primary target.
Campaigns are necessarily about elevating an individual to godlike status in order to get him or her elected. Bloomberg’s campaign played up his competence and record but never inspired the cultlike adoration of the candidate that Donald Trump is doing in his election efforts. For all his efforts, Bloomberg lacked warmth and charisma, he did not perform well in his debate appearances and he never overcame the perceptions of himself as an interloper and a plutocrat.
In the end, though, Bloomberg’s race was all about defeating Trump and saving the country. Despite his failure as a presidential candidate, he may have contributed considerably to those ends both nationally and in Florida.
If Trump is defeated and America remains a democracy, Bloomberg’s money will have been well spent. Whether he’s liked personally or not, the nation will owe him a debt of gratitude.
Liberty lives in light
© 2020 by David Silverberg