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Bloomberg Planned to Tap Sharing Economy in White House Bid

The campaign planned to tap Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Airbnb.

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg’s campaign planned to overcome some of the handicaps of mounting an independent bid for the White House by tapping into the sharing economy.

The now-scuttled Bloomberg campaign planned to use Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and even Airbnb in various facets of the election effort, according to Bradley Tusk, who ran Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns in New York City and was evaluating a White House run.

Tusk said there were clear advantages to mounting an independent presidential run — among them, not enduring a drawn-out and expensive nominating process or worrying about pleasing certain constituencies. But there are disadvantages, as well.

“From an execution standpoint, there’s no field operation to draw from,” said Tusk, referring to the network of volunteers mainstream campaigns draw from to build awareness of a candidate or drive voters to the polls.

That wasn’t such a big deal in Bloomberg’s 2009 mayoral bid, because his team knew the market exceptionally well. But a national race is a different story. Democrats can lean on the unions. Republicans, the evangelicals. But an independent candidate would need a different approach to the blocking-and-tackling of a campaign, such as building awareness or turning out the vote.

“That led me to conclude the sharing economy was our friend,” Tusk said, noting that this approach was “the fastest way to replicate a field operation, given some of the structural disadvantages of being an independent.”

That conclusion wasn’t much of a logical leap for Tusk, whose political strategy firm helped Uber navigate its regulatory troubles in New York City in 2011 and continues to advise the company. He carefully sketched out a plan that would employ DoorDash workers to deposit campaign literature along with the Chinese food, or invite those sharing their homes through Airbnb to display campaign signs.

On election day, Tusk planned to hire Uber and Lyft drivers to take voters to the polls (it helps when the candidate is worth an estimated $49 billion).

“From the [the perspective of the] campaign, you’re getting a better qualified workforce and one that’s associated with new technology, new ideas and innovation,” Tusk said. “You’re tapping into voters who may be new voters you could draw out.”

Wired was the first to report on Bloomberg’s sharing economy plan.

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