WASHINGTON – When billionaire Mike Bloomberg ended his presidential campaign in March, he pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to help Democrats defeat President Donald Trump. Less than two months before the election, he's finally coming through.
Facing questions about whether he would fulfill his promise, Bloomberg over the weekend moved to direct $100 million to Florida alone in support of Joe Biden. It's a massive sum on par with the resources he poured into helping Democrats retake the House in 2018 and could put Trump on defense in a state that is critical to his reelection.
Billionaire donors have long played a central role in supporting both parties. Yet no one has proposed pumping in so much cash to support a presidential campaign in a single state. Bloomberg's allies say the investment is in line with his longtime strategy in business and politics: to make the most impactful investment, based on the best data, at the right time.
“Mike Bloomberg is an impact player,” said former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who served as a co-chair of Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. “He’s looking across the field. He takes in the data. He looks at the evidence, does the analysis and then determines where to best have his impact to change the course of an election. That’s why he decided to invest so heavily in Florida.”
Bloomberg’s advisers say his Florida investment offers multiple benefits for Democrats: It frees up Democratic cash, allowing the campaign and outside groups to focus on other key swing states; it requires Republicans to spend more heavily to make up for the disparity there; and a decisive win by Biden in Florida could help tamp down efforts most Democrats are expecting from Trump to discount the results of the election.
Florida election officials can start counting absentee ballots weeks before Election Day, which means they’re typically able to report those results — which tend to favor Democrats — that night. And Trump has praised Florida’s mail ballot system, meaning if Biden wins there, it will be tougher for Trump to reverse course on the state.
“It’s pretty important for the democracy if Biden does win for us to be able to call Florida on election night,” said Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg’s longtime adviser.
Still, Bloomberg isn't necessarily a natural fit to help Democrats. Initially a Democrat, he became a Republican in 2000 ahead of his first run for New York City mayor. He left the GOP in 2007 and wasn't affiliated with either party until registering as a Democrat again last year.