Michael R. Bloomberg, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, says he is returning to his roots: He has re-registered as a Democrat — an initial but essential step toward a possible run for president in 2020 as a Democrat.
Mr. Bloomberg made the announcement in simultaneous social media postings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which showed the left-handed 76-year-old filing out his registration paperwork (and also, incidentally, the absence of his middle "R" initial).
"At key points in U.S. history, one of the two parties has served as a bulwark against those who threaten our Constitution," Mr. Bloomberg wrote, adding later, "We need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs."
Mr. Bloomberg had abandoned the Democratic Party to launch his political career in 2001 and win the mayoralty in New York City as a Republican. But he noted on Wednesday that he had been a Democrat "for most of my life."
He ended nearly two decades of estrangement, inspired by what he said was the call of history and the need for an opposition party to provide on a check on President Trump.
Mr. Bloomberg's centrist politics are very likely to create some friction with the current activist class of the Democratic Party, including his views on Wall Street regulations and the stop-and-frisk police tactics he embraced as mayor. He also would be 78 on Election Day in 2020 — older than anyone elected president.
While it is still unclear whether Democrats will welcome him into what could be a historically expansive primary field in 2020, the party leadership has very much embraced him in the 2018 congressional midterms, as he has pledged to spend $100 million to help Democrats win both the House ($80 million) and the Senate ($20 million).
The spending is expected to make him the single biggest political contributor in the country in 2018. "His name is synonymous with excellence," the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, gushed earlier this year.
Mr. Bloomberg has done more than just give. Last week, he traveled to Florida to campaign for the Democratic nominee for governor there, Andrew Gillum, at a Jewish center in Pembroke Pines . He donated to Mr. Gillum; his anti-gun group, Everytown for Gun Safety , also donated; and he hosted a fund-raiser, too.
This Tuesday, back in New York, Mr. Bloomberg hosted a fund-raiser for Phil Bredesen, the former Democratic governor of Tennessee and current candidate for United States Senate.
Mr. Bloomberg is not solely backing Democrats this year; in June, he held a fund-raiser for Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, with whom he worked closely following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Still, his re-registration as a Democrat is not a shock.
Mr. Bloomberg spoke at the 2016 Democratic convention in favor of Hillary Clinton ("The richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy," Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire, said then.). And he has begun flirting with the presidency himself in recent months, he told The New York Times in September. "That's not to say I'm with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don't see how you could possibly run as a Republican. So if you ran, yeah, you'd have to run as a Democrat."
In that interview, Mr. Bloomberg hinted that he might formally register as a Democrat, saying he would "look at it" but had no imminent plans.
"I think at the moment, there's no reason to do anything," Mr. Bloomberg said then, of changing his registration. "But if I think — if I wanted to change parties and I thought it sent the right message, I would do it."
Mr. Bloomberg's registration announcement comes ahead of New York's deadline later this week and after the deadline has passed in more than a dozen states in recent days.
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