Michael Bloomberg, the former three-term New York City mayor and billionaire founder of the Bloomberg News empire, announced Monday that he would not mount a third-party run for the U.S. presidency.
“When I look at the data, it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win,” Bloomberg wrote in a commentary on his own BloombergView. “I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.”
It was a practical calculation for a businessman and late-in-life politician who gained acclaim for his practicality and technocratic approach to governing the nation’s largest city.
“As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz,” Bloomberg wrote. “That is not a risk I can take in good conscience.”
While he stopped short of endorsing either of the candidates for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Bloomberg singled out the GOP frontrunner and fellow New York billionaire for criticism.
“I have known Mr. Trump casually for many years, and we have always been on friendly terms. I even agreed to appear on ‘The Apprentice’ — twice,” Bloomberg wrote. “But he has run the most divisive and demagogic presidential campaign I can remember, preying on people’s prejudices and fears. Abraham Lincoln, the father of the Republican Party, appealed to our ‘better angels.’ Trump appeals to our worst impulses.”
He also lamented the overall tone of the presidential race in both parties. “Extremism is on the march, and unless we stop it, our problems at home and abroad will grow worse,” he wrote.
In recent months, Bloomberg assembled a team of strategists and advisers in the event that he decided to make a run, according to the New York Times. The effort included polling in 22 states, the creation of a website and TV ads and the establishment of offices in Texas and North Carolina, two states that would have required early signature drives to gain placement on the November ballot.
The Times also reported that Bloomberg had held discussions with former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Michael Mullen about serving as his running mate.
Bloomberg, who as mayor waged campaigns against smoking and oversized sodas, indicated earlier this year that he was “looking at all the options” and “listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing.”
“I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg said.