by Nihal Krishan – Center for Responsive Politics
So far this cycle, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City and his super PAC, Independence USA, have only spent $15,000 against Republican candidates but that is soon going to change drastically with a newly announced $80 million cash influx that Bloomberg plans to spend on helping Democrats get elected. He will soon jump to the very top of our individual contributors to federal campaigns list.
With a focus on spending money in certain moderate suburban areas where President Donald Trump is unpopular, and avoiding rural, conservative-leaning districts, Bloomberg hopes to help the Democratic Party wrestle control of the House of Representatives.
Bloomberg who was a Republican during his first two terms as mayor of New York City before becoming an Independent in his third term has increasingly taken a leftward turn on issues like immigration, the environment, and gun control.
Mr. Bloomberg’s emphatic support for Democrats through this humongous donation has the potential to change the dynamics of money in politics of the midterm campaign and tip the scale in favor of the Democrats who have not controlled the House since 2010. Democrats need at least 23 congressional seatsto take the majority back from the Republicans and are focused on winning dozens of red seats in the suburbs of big cities like Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Miami, according to the New York Times.
It has been reported that Bloomberg’s 2018 campaign efforts will be managed by Howard Wolfsen, a former executive of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the education program lead for Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mr. Bloomberg has been known to talk regularly with Rep. Joseph Crowley, a high ranking Democrat from Queens and also Rep. Seth Moulton, a military veteran from Massachusetts who has been a vocal critic of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. The Times also reported that “Mr. Bloomberg is said to be intrigued by a list of candidates Mr. Moulton has endorsed, many of them also veterans.”
Bloomberg, who has a net worth of $47.5 million, is no stranger to political spending. He has donated tens of millions of dollars in the past three federal elections, securing him a spot on our list of the 10 biggest donors since 2010. In the 2016 cycle, most of his $23.6 million went to Independence USA, a super PAC completely funded by Bloomberg’s $21.5 million and in the past has pledged millions to his Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. The Independence USA super PAC spent $6 million against former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), $789,000 against Donald Trump, $5.9 million for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and $539,000 for Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.).
Bloomberg also gave $1 million to Planned Parenthood‘s super PAC and $1 million to pro-choice Women Vote!, and contributed to a bipartisan mix of lawmakers, such as Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y), former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.). In 2014, Bloomberg came in second place on our biggest donors list with $28.6 million in contributions, most of which went to Independence USA.
His upcoming spending on House campaigns this year will surge ahead of other high flying donors like Sheldon Adelson, the staunchly conservative casino billionaire who recently donated $30 million to a super PAC connected with Speaker Paul Ryan and George Soros, the investor who has spent $9.5 million supporting Democrats so far this year.
Bloomberg said in a statement that he has “plenty of disagreements with some Democrats, especially those who seek to make this election about impeachment. Nothing could be more irresponsible.” However he believes at the same time that the country “cannot afford to elect another Congress that lacks the courage to reach across the aisle and the independence to assert its constitutional authority.”
The businessman billionaire will likely support a few Republicans in their gubernatorial races this year as well as a couple of specific House races but otherwise is expected to spend little to nothing on Republicans at the federal level, the Times reported.
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