WASHINGTON ― Democratic senators said the sprawling presidential field doesn’t need any more candidates, responding to news over the weekend that several high-profile Democrats are considering making a late entry into the 2020 presidential race.
“A lot of people have been out on the trail for months, some even years, and have done a lot of work. To think they can airdrop into this circumstance, it’s rare that that happens,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said.
Billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg registered on Tuesday for the 2020 ballot in Arkansas ahead of an early filing deadline after previously ruling out a presidential bid. The move is widely seen as a sign that the Democratic establishment is unsatisfied with the current slate of front-runners, who include former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Bloomberg has been a fierce advocate for progressive causes like gun control and efforts to combat climate change. His entry in the race would make him the richest person to ever run for president, beating out billionaire Ross Perot, who ran as a third-party candidate in the 1990s.
“I think it’s hard to enter, but maybe $50 billion gives you a new entry point,” Durbin added, referring to Bloomberg’s deep pockets.
Bloomberg is reportedly planning to skip early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire if he does launch a presidential bid and instead focus on states that vote on Super Tuesday and beyond.
But some Democrats felt he may have missed his moment.
“I have a hard time taking Mayor Bloomberg’s effort seriously given the fact that he could have done this a year ago. I just think the election is already sort of going full bore,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said.
I have a hard time taking Mayor Bloomberg’s effort seriously given the fact that he could have done this a year ago. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Bloomberg isn’t the only prominent figure considering a 2020 bid less than 90 days before the Iowa caucuses. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is reportedly mulling it as well because he’s unsure the current field of candidates is capable of uniting the party against Donald Trump.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) declined to weigh in on the former governor’s possible entry into the race on Tuesday.
Democratic voters aren’t jazzed about a broader 2020 presidential field, either. A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted after the last Democratic presidential debate found that 71% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters thought the party had two or more candidates who could defeat Trump. An Economist/YouGov poll conducted last week also found that 78% of Democrats were happy with their choices, while 22% wanted more candidates.
“We have terrific candidates. Leave it at that,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said Tuesday, summing up the sentiment of a majority of Democratic voters.
Bloomberg’s candidacy could pose a threat to Biden’s path to the White House. Big-money Democratic donors have expressed concern about the former vice president’s viability in the race, given the strength of Warren’s campaign to date. The Massachusetts senator’s proposal to raise taxes on the super-rich, in particular, has led to furious hand-wringing.
But Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a top Biden supporter in the Senate, downplayed the consequences of a Bloomberg candidacy in the race and suggested the billionaire would face difficulties succeeding where other moderates in the race have failed.
“I would assume he’s seen something that I’ve not seen in terms of polling,” Coons said, adding that Bloomberg would have to “answer challenging questions about why a former Republican New York billionaire is the answer to the challenges [voters] face in their day-to-day lives.”