The Washington Post is wondering if today’s the day we’ll learn if Michael Bloomberg wasted $500 million dollars in his bid to become president. It’s the wrong question to ask, frankly. Bloomberg could have spent twice that amount of money in his presidential campaign without feeling a financial pinch, and even if his campaign craters on Super Tuesday, he’s already said he’s planning on staying in the race as a spoiler and bringing his campaign to a contested convention.
It’s Super Tuesday – with 14 states voting today – and @MikeBloomberg says he doesn’t know “if you have to win any” states, that he’s focused on delegates.
Does he want a contested convention? “Well I don’t think I can win any other ways” pic.twitter.com/p8Fvo1VOqb
— Maura Barrett (@MauraBarrettNBC) March 3, 2020
The real question isn’t whether Bloomberg will look back and think, “Gee, I should have spent that $500-million on something else,” it’s whether or not Bloomberg has squandered his political capital in his campaign for president.
Before Bloomberg entered the race, Democrats were happy to take his money in exchange for supporting his agenda. Bloomberg operated largely behind the scenes, using groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action to serve as the face of his anti-gun agenda.
When his massive spending resulted in more Americans backing the billionaire, however, he started to face real scrutiny for the first time. His comments on stop-and-frisk became public fodder, as did his “troubling record” (in the words of The Guardian) on women in the workplace. Bernie Sanders fans bashed Bloomberg for his attacks on socialism, while the establishment wing of the Democrat Party went after Bloomberg for his years as a Republican.
What happens if and when Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign ends? Will the same politicians who eagerly accepted their allowance from Bloomberg still be as amendable to being bought by the billionaire? Will the gun control groups he started be able to keep the volunteers who feel betrayed or used by Bloomberg, who didn’t even acknowledge them when referring to the gun groups during the last Democratic debate?
It’s highly unlikely that Bloomberg’s entire empire of influence will collapse along with his presidential campaign, but I suspect that his support and financial backing, particularly of politicians, could become a liability for the billionaire and the causes he funds.
If the Bloomberg brand becomes damaged goods among Democrats, then he really will have wasted his money on his presidential campaign. More importantly for those of us who don’t share access to Bloomberg’s bank account, though, is the fact that he will have squandered at least some of the good will he’d been able to purchase within the party before he decided to run for President last November.
I’m not saying that Everytown for Gun Safety will close up shop, or that they’ll even see a drop in funding from their billionaire backer. Even if some politicians shy away from the Bought By Bloomberg label, he won’t give up his anti-gun crusade. However, by becoming the face of his movement while arguing that he deserves to be protected by armed guards while average Americans shouldn’t be able to carry a firearm to protect themselves, I do believe he’s weakened his own cause. Michael Bloomberg has spent a lot of time and money crafting a narrative that “common sense gun laws” will alleviate the fears and concerns of suburban moms, but in the past few days he’s made it clear that he just believes he and his pals will all be safer if the rest of us are disarmed. His remarks won’t fade away, even if his presidential campaign does.