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Michael Bloomberg is a Democrat again, fueling speculation about 2020 aspirations

Bloomberg isn’t exactly the 2020 Democrat many progressives are dreaming of.

Michael Bloomberg at the annual Sun Valley Conference in Idaho in July 2018.
Michael Bloomberg at the annual Sun Valley Conference in Idaho in July 2018.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — who has now changed his party registration three times — is a Democrat again, further fueling speculation about whether he’ll try to run for president in 2020.

The billionaire business executive announced early Wednesday in an Instagram post that he had reregistered as a member of the Democratic Party in New York. “At key points in US history, one of the two parties has served as a bulwark against those who threaten the US Constitution,” Bloomberg wrote. “Two years ago at the Democratic Convention, I warned of these threats.”

He posted a picture of himself signing the paperwork to register as a Democrat, which he pointed out he’s been for most of his life, “because we need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs.”

Bloomberg was a Democrat before his 2001 mayoral run, when he switched to the Republican Party and subsequently won. He became an independent in 2007 and remained as such until now, though he spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Bloomberg, 76, has also been heavily funding Democrats this election cycle and reportedly plans to spend more than $80 million on the 2018 midterms, largely as part of an effort to flip the House of Representatives.

“Republicans in Congress have had almost two years to prove they could govern responsibly. They failed,” he said in a statement explaining the decision in June. “As we approach the 2018 midterms, it’s critical that we elect people who will lead in ways that this Congress won’t – both by seeking to legislate in a bipartisan way, and by upholding the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers set up to safeguard ethics, prevent the abuse of power, and preserve the rule of law.”

Michael Bloomberg isn’t exactly the 2020 Democrat many progressives are dreaming of

Bloomberg, who toyed with a 2016 independent run for the White House, is reportedly considering running for president in 2020. His Wednesday reregistration with the party only further fueled speculation that he might seek to challenge President Donald Trump in his reelection bid. It’s a prospect many on the left aren’t exactly welcoming with open arms.

The New York Times reported in September that he is thinking about running as a Democrat for the presidency in 2020, even though he’s not entirely aligned with the party on issues such as bank regulation, stop-and-frisk policing, and #MeToo. In an interview with the Times, he criticized progressives’ approach to big business and specifically singled out Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s push to break up the banks as a bad idea.

Of journalist Charlie Rose, who was ousted from CBS and PBS after reports of years of sexual misconduct emerged, Bloomberg said he “never had a complaint” about Rose and that he was “surprised” at the reports about him. Rose recorded one of his shows in the Bloomberg office.

“You know, is it true?” Bloomberg said of the allegations against Rose. “You look at people that say it is, but we have a system where you have — presumption of innocence is the basis of it.”

Bloomberg’s advisers, according to the Times, think he could position himself as a moderate Democrat in the 2020 Democratic field. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his team are also reportedly making a similar calculation.

Rumblings of a Bloomberg 2020 run have drawn a mixed reaction from Democrats. Progressives are fired up right now, and it’s not clear what sort of appetite there is for a centrist figure among voters on the left. Many Democrats appear to be in the mood for politicians who are more liberal, not less.

Bloomberg appears interested in testing the waters, anyway.