Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire entrepreneur who was elected mayor of New York City as both a Republican and an independent, announced Tuesday that he will not run for president as a Democrat in the 2020 election.
Bloomberg, 77, had been seriously weighing a presidential run in recent months but said in an opinion piece on his eponymous website Tuesday that he is “clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”
Instead, Bloomberg will focus his political efforts on expanding his support for the Beyond Coal campaign and promoting candidates who favor gun control, he said. In addition, Bloomberg announced a new campaign called Beyond Carbon, “a grassroots effort to begin moving America as quickly as possible away from oil and gas and toward a 100 percent clean energy economy.”
“In the weeks and months ahead, I will dive even deeper into the work of turning around our country, through concrete actions and results,” he wrote. “And I will continue supporting candidates who can provide the leadership we need — on climate change, gun violence, education, health, voting rights, and other critical issues — and continue holding their feet to the fire to deliver what they promise.”
Bloomberg’s aides had been preparing for a potential presidential run during weekly meetings at the Upper East Side headquarters of Bloomberg’s foundation. There, they reportedly focused on how to collect massive amounts of information that could be used to identify potential new voters.
But after two months of politicians announcing they were deciding to run for the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg becomes the third public figure this week to say he isn’t, after former Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.). (Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Monday that he does plan to run for president.)
If he had entered the Democratic field, Bloomberg would have become the richest person to ever run for president, besting billionaire Ross Perot, who twice ran in the 1990s and is worth about $4 billion. Bloomberg, by comparison, possesses a net worth of more than $50 billion and was the 10th richest person in the U.S. last year, according to Forbes.
Bloomberg has mulled running for president as an independent in the past, but ultimately decided not to do so after determining neither he nor anyone else would ever have a realistic shot of winning the presidency as a third-party candidate. He acknowledged Tuesday that the 2020 Democratic primary will be difficult, writing “we cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into ‘Four More Years.’”
In January, Bloomberg criticized fellow billionaire Howard Schultz without naming him after the former Starbucks CEO revealed on “60 Minutes” that he was “seriously” considering running for president as a “centrist independent.”
“In 2020, the great likelihood is that an independent would just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the President. That’s a risk I refused to run in 2016 and we can’t afford to run it now,” Bloomberg wrote in a statement on his website at the time.
Bloomberg re-registered as a Democrat last October, nearly two decades after he left the party and successfully ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican in 2001. He served three terms as mayor of the city by the time he was done, successfully pushing through a change to the city’s term limits that allowed him to run as an independent a third time.
During his time in office, he turned the city’s $3 billion budget deficit into a $2.4 billion surplus. The crime rate in New York City dropped during his mayoral tenure, and he pushed through a number of health-focused ideas, including banning smoking in parks, requiring calorie counts to be posted at chain restaurants and introducing the bike-sharing Citi Bike program.
He also faced criticism for the city’s growing homeless population, the escalating price of rent, his handling of the Occupy Wall Street protests and the NYPD’s controversial use of “stop-and-frisk” strategy, which disproportionately affected hundreds of thousands of people of color in the city.
Bloomberg made his vast fortune predominantly through Bloomberg LP, a media and financial information company he co-founded in 1981 after parting ways with the investment bank Salomon Brothers. Today, the company pulls in billions of dollars in revenue every year. But Bloomberg has said that should he ever run for president, he would either sell the company or place it in a blind trust to avoid any conflict of interest.
Since the last presidential election, Bloomberg has repeatedly and loudly criticized President Donald Trump. In January, he called Trump a “pretend CEO” and “dangerous” man “who is recklessly running this country.”
“The presidency is not an entry-level job,” Bloomberg said then. “There is just too much at stake.”
Bloomberg is a longtime advocate for immigration reform, infrastructure investment and gun control ― in 2006, he founded the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
Never one to shy away from spending money for causes he believes in, Bloomberg has donated more than $6 billion to philanthropic and political causes over his lifetime. He poured $100 million of his own money into his third campaign for New York City mayor and donated over $110 million to help Democrats win during the 2018 midterms.
This article has been updated with more details throughout.