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Bloomberg officially files to run in Alabama presidential primary

Bloomberg officially files to run in Alabama presidential primary
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Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE on Friday officially filed as a candidate for the Alabama Democratic presidential primary, the first step in a possible White House run that could shake up the already-crowded 2020 field.

The Alabama Democratic Party updated its website at 4:35 p.m. local time to indicate that Bloomberg had filed the necessary documents ahead of the state's registration deadline on Friday.

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Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who built a financial data and media empire, could jolt the Democratic primary race with his late entry and a personal war chest estimated at more than $50 billion.

Bloomberg has not yet made a final decision on whether to run for president, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

Should he enter, however, the vocal centrist could find himself on a direct collision course with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Five things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs MORE and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE, the two leading moderates in the field. 

The former mayor would also likely enter the race as a top target for progressives, particularly Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden announces all-female White House communications team The 'diploma divide' in American politics Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia MORE (I-Vt.), two top-tier liberals who have argued the rich hold too much sway in U.S. politics and have unveiled a litany of plans hinged on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“The wealthy and well connected are scared,” Warren’s campaign said in an email to supporters as news broke that Bloomberg was considering a run. “They're scared that under a Warren presidency, they would no longer have a government that caters to their every need. So they're doing whatever they can to try to stop Elizabeth and our movement from winning in 2020 and bringing big, structural change in 2021.”

Bloomberg said in March that he would not run for president but warned that the ultimate Democratic nominee should not take progressive policy positions that would “drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election.” 

Yet speculation swirled that Bloomberg was reconsidering his decision and was looking to join the race after Biden has shown himself to be vulnerable as Warren and Sanders climb in the polls and in fundraising.

“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated — but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to Bloomberg, tweeted on Thursday.

“Based on his record of accomplishment, leadership and his ability to bring people together to drive change, Mike would be able to take the fight to Trump and win.”

Bloomberg will likely enter the race looking to become the candidate for swaths of Democratic voters who fear that progressive policies will prove too liberal in key swing states that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE won in 2016. 

A New York Times/Siena College poll released Friday found that a majority of Democrats surveyed in six battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — prefer a more centrist-minded candidate who promises to find common ground with Republicans.

Despite having a firm lane in which to run, Bloomberg’s path to the 2020 nomination will be far from easy.

His competitors have been canvassing and organizing in crucial primary states for months, with a top-tier of Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg emerging, and he would still have to garner donations from hundreds of thousands of Americans to qualify for the upcoming debates.

Bloomberg is seen as considering skipping the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, to focus instead on Super Tuesday as he builds out his campaign infrastructure. 

However, Democrats in those states still hope to hear from Bloomberg.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley and Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price issued a rare joint statement on Friday pushing Bloomberg to visit their states if he mounts a presidential bid.

“We are excited that this Democratic presidential nomination contest has so many qualified candidates who all have plans to grow our economy, make quality health care more accessible, and make college more affordable, and we are certain that Granite Staters, Iowans, and other early state voters are eager to ask Michael Bloomberg about his plans to move our states and our country forward,” Buckley and Price said. “We hope that they will have that opportunity.” 

-- Updated at 6:45 p.m.