The Democrats have 17 candidates clamoring for their presidential nomination, offering a wide and impressive array of experience and ideas. What makes Michael Bloomberg believe they may need another?
For one thing, he's not the only person who thinks so.
A problem in having so many choices — too many, really — is that people are slow to settle on one. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden, the one whom President Donald Trump fears most, is struggling to raise money befitting a front-runner. He's also losing traction to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose advocacy of mandatory Medicare for All and a wealth tax worry some who might accept them, but for two more urgent priorities.
Those priorities are defeating Trump and electing a Congress not hostile to moderate and achievable reforms such as Medicare for those who want it — that is, the public option that should have been in the Affordable Care Act all along.
Bloomberg isn't the only Democrat who doubts that Warren or Sen. Bernie Sanders could accomplish all that.
This is a nation that welcomes progress, but prefers that it come in measured strides, rather than great leaps forward.
Should Biden falter in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — the earliest of the caucus and primary states — Bloomberg's plan would be to make a late but bold grab for Super Tuesday on March 3 with its huge haul of Texas, California and 12 other states and territories.
But a late-entry strategy has been tried and failed every time, notably by Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg would be fairly accused of having skipped places he couldn't win.
November 2020 will be a close election, no matter what some polls show, because of the anti-democratic influence of the Electoral College. There will be no votes that the Democrats can afford to waste. The advantages of nominating a centrist would be significant.
Bloomberg is certainly a centrist. He has broad potential appeal to Democrats passionate about gun control and saving the climate, both of which he has supported with enthusiasm and money. His campaign contributions aided the success of Florida's Fair Districts voter initiatives in 2010, and just helped turn Virginia blue.
But Biden, too, is a centrist. So are Sen. Amy Klobuchar and some others.
It is Biden's candidacy that stands the most to lose from a Bloomberg campaign, which could hardly help the others. Bloomberg's primary campaign could have the paradoxical consequence of nominating Warren or Sanders and re-electing Trump. Before committing to the race, Bloomberg should think very seriously about that.
There's no doubt that Bloomberg despises Trump and what he has done to and with the presidency.
Bloomberg deserves credit for deciding early not to run as an independent, which he realized would likely result in splitting the anti-Trump vote and re-electing the president. Before committing to running as a Democrat, however, he should satisfy himself that his candidacy would not have the same tragic outcome.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL