Besides being a billionaire and a three-term mayor of New York City, the latest entrant in the crowded field for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is both a former Republican and former independent.
Michael Bloomberg announced his bid in late November, after five debates had already been held, calling himself a new choice for Democrats. He also turned heads by reserving $30 million for a week’s worth of TV ads in more than two dozen states.
Nationally, he’s been less in the limelight since leaving the mayor’s office in 2013.
Bloomberg was born to a Polish immigrant father who was a bookkeeper and a mother who was a secretary. Raised in Medford, Mass., he rose from modest Jewish middle class to Harvard MBA to Salomon Brothers investment bank hot shot to business innovator, according to a biography by former New York Times editorial writer Eleanor Randolph, published two months before Bloomberg’s announcement.
He co-founded Bloomberg LP, a financial information and media company, in 1981 and is now the eighth-wealthiest American, with a net worth of $54 billion, according to Forbes. He returned to running the company after his time as mayor, and has been involved in environmental and gun control causes, including co-founding Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2006, the predecessor of what is now known as Everytown for Gun Safety.
As a Republican, Bloomberg succeeded Rudy Giuliani as mayor in 2002 and served 12 years, through 2013. He was succeeded by the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, who briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination before dropping out in September. Bloomberg spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and officially registered as a Democrat in 2018.
Name: Michael Bloomberg
Occupation: Co-founder and CEO of Bloomberg LP
Party: Democratic Party
Elected office: Three-term mayor of New York City, serving from 2002 to 2013
Highlights as mayor: According to a Wall Street Journal news article, Bloomberg persuaded state lawmakers to give him authority over the school district, dismantling local school boards. He gave schools A-through-F letter grades, banned students from having cell phones and fostered competition between schools. In housing, Bloomberg’s administration oversaw 120 rezonings, which covered about 40% of the city, to turn manufacturing sites and commercial areas into residential communities. Crime had been dropping for years before Bloomberg took office, but he increased the use of stop-and-frisk, a policing tactic that primarily affected black and Latino New Yorkers and resulted in thousands of arrests, despite most stops resulting in no charges. By 2013, the annual number of murders was as low as in the 1950s, “but the public’s relationship with the police had partly frayed.”
Private sector work: He is best known for the New York City-based company he helped launch and runs, Bloomberg LP, which provides economic, financial and computerized information, and legal regulatory and compliance news and research. It has 19,000 employees and $9.6 billion in sales, according to Forbes.
Book authored: “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet” (with Carl Pope), 2017
Education: Johns Hopkins University (B.S., 1964), Harvard University (M.B.A., 1966)
Birth date: Feb. 14, 1942
Top issues: His campaign website says we have “an economy that is tilted against most Americans, a health care system that costs too much and doesn’t cover everyone, communities ravaged by gun violence, schools that aren’t preparing our children for success in an increasingly high-tech world, an immigration system that is cruel and dysfunctional, a climate crisis that is growing worse by the day, special interests that corrupt Washington and block progress on all of these issues.”
Miscellaneous: According to The Fiscal Times, Bloomberg was an Eagle Scout; worked as a parking lot attendant in college to help pay for his tuition; was the first openly Jewish member of Johns Hopkins’ Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter; applied to the Officer Candidate School of the U.S. Armed Forces, but wasn’t accepted because he has flat feet; Queen Elizabeth II named Bloomberg an “Honorary Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” because of his charity work and contributions to the British economy.
Other coverage: PolitiFact, Bloomberg’s Truth-O-Meter file; Wall Street Journal, “Michael Bloomberg’s Record in New York City”; Los Angeles Times, “What you need to know about Michael Bloomberg — the latest billionaire who wants to be president“; New York Times, “Michael Bloomberg Joins 2020 Democratic Field for President”; YouTube, Bloomberg’s first speech as a presidential candidate
Campaign website: MikeBloomberg.com