Bloomberg launches giant TV ad campaign for apparent presidential run

Michael R. Bloomberg has reserved a huge block of television advertising across the nation next week in another sign that the former New York mayor is on the verge of announcing a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The billionaire finance and media mogul is spending at least $31 million on a week of TV commercials starting Monday, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm. It is the most money ever spent by any candidate for one week of advertising, breaking the $25-million record set by President Obama at the end of his 2012 reelection campaign, the firm said.

“Mike is prepared to spend what it takes to defeat Donald Trump,” Bloomberg spokesman Jason Schechter said.

The breadth of Bloomberg’s ad buy is unusual for a presidential primary. He reserved ad time in dozens of media markets, including some of the most expensive in the country: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, Cleveland, Phoenix and Detroit.


The ad buy is the clearest sign yet that Bloomberg, whose fortune Forbes pegs at $54 billion, will far outspend more than a dozen rivals if he joins the race for his party’s nomination to challenge President Trump.

It’s also a signal that Bloomberg, 77, would be using his vast resources to run a national campaign on a scale far beyond what any other White House candidate can afford. At the end of September, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was the only one with more than $31 million in the bank, according to the most recent finance reports.

The former New York mayor and Trump critic will have a steep climb in the 2020 Democratic primary contest if he decides to run. He would bet on winning later and larger states.

For the most part, the Democratic contenders lack the means — at least for now — to advertise beyond the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

One of the exceptions is the other billionaire in the race: former hedge-fund chief Tom Steyer of San Francisco, whose net worth Forbes estimates at $1.6 billion. Despite his heavy TV advertising across the country, Steyer is stuck near the bottom of the field in national polls of likely primary voters, hitting just 1%.

Indeed, Bloomberg’s lavish spending could backfire in a contest against candidates who bash billionaires while promoting plans to reduce wealth and income inequality.

“I’m disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy elections,” Sanders said Friday on Twitter. “If you can’t build grass-roots support for your candidacy, you have no business running for president.”

Bloomberg has filed papers to get on the Democratic primary ballots in Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Georgia and Texas. He filed a statement of candidacy on Thursday with the Federal Election Commission, but a spokesman said it was a procedural step that did not mean Bloomberg had made a final decision to run.