Mike Bloomberg‘s announcement on Wednesday that he was suspending his presidential campaign likely brought knowing smirks to the many people who opposed his candidacy, but Joe Biden may not have been smiling.
Yes, Bloomberg announced he would be endorsing Biden to be the Democratic nominee for president, something politically is a major coup in terms of the former vice president likely inheriting supporters of the three-time mayor of New York City along with the billionaire’s generous campaign finance endeavors. But on the flip side of that tarnished coin lies the naked truth that Bloomberg remains a most reviled figure to African Americans and other Black people who were victims of or took offense to the racist stop and frisk policy championed by the recently departed presidential candidate when he was in control of City Hall in New York for 12 long years.
Biden graciously responded to Bloomberg’s announcement. But after Biden’s recent and commanding primary victories further demonstrated his popularity with Black voters, it was unclear if allowing Bloomberg to be associated with his presidential campaign in any way would isolate those same Black voters.
The day before the Super Tuesday contests were held, other former candidates who recently dropped out also endorsed Biden, something that likely also helped push him to his victories. Those who had supported the now-suspended campaigns of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar probably voted for Biden as a result of their endorsing Barack Obama‘s vice president. But would the same be true for Bloomberg’s supporters and Biden’s campaign moving forward?
Biden has openly questioned Bloomberg’s political affiliation, saying that the former Republican and Independent candidate is “not a Democrat.” Biden has also said that Bloomberg’s billions that are ready to be spent to beat Trump can’t forgive a racist record.
“$60 billion can buy you a lot of advertising, but it can’t erase your record,” Biden said about Bloomberg on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last month. “There’s a lot to talk about with Michael Bloomberg. You all are going to start focusing on him like you have on me. … You’re going to focus on him. … From stop-and-frisk to the way he talked about Obama.”
Bloomberg has also criticized Biden as not being experienced enough to be president.
“He’s never been a manager of an organization,” Bloomberg said about Biden during an interview with MSNBC in December. “He’s never run a school system. His wife actually is an educator and has good experience there. But no, I don’t think any of them—you know, the presidency shouldn’t be a training job. You get in there, you’ve got to hit the ground running.”
With that said, Blomberg’s money is hard to ignore. The man spent nearly $600 million of his own cash to fund his campaign that didn’t even last four months. In a political climate that continues to prove that money talks, Biden might want to think twice about rejecting Bloomberg’s funding — something Bernie Sanders has repeatedly said he would do if he becomes the nominee.
There was also the issue of Bloomberg’s supporters to contend with. For better or for worse, the billionaire has assembled a formidable list of endorsements from the Black community, including multiple influential congressmen and women such as New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, Rep. Stacey Plaskett who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, who co-founded the state’s Black Panther Party chapter during the civil rights movement, and Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was murdered by a white man for playing music loudly in his car.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also endorsed Bloomberg, who also — by the way — was polling at 19 percent with Black voters, according to the most recent data from Morning Consult.
Considering all of the above, it is probably in Biden’s best political interest to accept Bloomberg’s endorsement while also keeping a distance from the billionaire — except when it’s time to cut the checks.