March 2, 2020
Michael R. Bloomberg, 78, grew up in Medford, Massachusetts. After attending Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Business School, Bloomberg was laid off from his job as a Wall Street investment banker at age 39 and used his $10 million-severance to build the Bloomberg Terminal, the financial data and trading platform that made him a billionaire. As New York City mayor for three consecutive terms from 2002 to 2013, Bloomberg famously banned smoking in public places as well as oversized sodas, reduced the city’s carbon footprint by twice the national average, expanded bike lanes, and helped direct a speedy recovery after Hurricane Sandy. But he also expanded “stop and frisk,” surveilled Muslims, and introduced controversial education reforms. On November 24, 2019, Bloomberg, one of the wealthiest people in the world with a net worth of $55 billion, announced his candidacy for President of the United States, running as a Democrat.
At his debate debut in Nevada this past February, the billionaire media mogul attempted to position himself as a foil to both President Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders, citing his New York sensibilities, experience managing a major city, business success, and financial support for progressive causes. Before former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s comeback in South Carolina, many looked to Bloomberg’s candidacy with excitement as other moderates in the race were struggling to coalesce around a candidate that could blunt self-proclaimed revolutionary Sanders’s momentum.
But Bloomberg is a complicated candidate and the novelty of his candidacy has put criticisms of his past at the forefront just before voting begins, while other competitors have already waded through political storms. Originally hesitant to enter the race for fear of being caught up in an “apology tour,” Bloomberg said he ultimately felt the need to join an already crowded primary field because he felt that there were no serious contenders. However, in a field that has only recently grown narrower — Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar have dropped out ahead of Super Tuesday primaries tomorrow and endorsed former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden — Bloomberg may soon find himself obsolete as the contender to unify moderates across the political spectrum. For many South Asian Americans, Bloomberg will do if he becomes the nominee, but he isn’t often their top choice this primary cycle.