Bloomberg, Patrick take different approaches after late entries into primary race

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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are taking starkly different approaches as they boot up their late entries into the crowded 2020 Democratic primary field.

Bloomberg, a businessman who built a financial data and media empire and is estimated to be worth roughly $50 billion, is expected to skip the primaries and caucuses in the first four nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

He did not file to be a candidate in New Hampshire’s primary Friday, while several other candidates in the field are investing significant resources in the early states in hopes that strong showings can propel their presidential ambitions.

Meanwhile, Patrick, who officially launched his campaign Thursday, announced Saturday that he will blitz the early primary and caucus states to kick off his White House bid. Patrick filed for New Hampshire’s primary in person shortly after his campaign announcement and is set to go on a whirlwind tour of Nevada, Iowa and South Carolina between Sunday and Tuesday. 

“We’re competing everywhere, from the early states to Super Tuesday states to states most presidential candidates don’t campaign,” Abe Rakov, Patrick’s campaign manager, said in a statement to The Hill. 

The conflicting tactics shine a light on the different strategies the campaigns are adopting after their late launches, hinting that Bloomberg may bank on his virtually bottomless bank account to sustain him deep into the primary despite missing some early races, while Patrick’s more limited funds could be forcing him to place an emphasis on the first primaries and caucuses to build momentum. 

“The fact that [Bloomberg] can self-fund his own campaign means that he can afford to have a conversation with voters through advertising and other means for as long as he wants throughout the process,” Democratic strategist Basil Smikle told The Hill. “He has the ability to flood the airwaves with a message about his candidacy and about issues that he cares about.”

“Because Deval Patrick is looking at this race as a candidate who can siphon some support from [former Vice President Joe] Biden, who can siphon support from candidates in the second and third tier of this race, and without the funding, he’ll need to contend in more states over time to improve his name recognition and get his message out,” he added. 

The late entries into the race could rejigger the primary field – both candidates have centrist reputations and could angle their appeal to voters and donors who are concerned that Biden, Democrats’ leading moderate in the race, could cede ground to progressives such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“It strikes me that both of their strategies are predicated on Biden falling apart,” said Democratic strategist James Carville. “That seems to me to be pretty clear.”

“Bloomberg obviously thinks he can come and pick up the pieces. Patrick, because he’s less funded, maybe thinks he can get a really good showing in New Hampshire,” he added, noting that Patrick hails from neighboring Massachusetts.

While Bloomberg’s wealth may give him a longer runway to roll out his campaign and the leeway to skip the early states, Patrick could see an upside by jump-starting his ground game and being forced to compete in the first caucuses and primaries.

“I think because he’s coming in so late, he may have the opportunity to get that initial fresh face bump that every candidate got maybe six to eight months ago,” Smikle said. “If Deval Patrick can have a really good opening week in the campaign cycle, I think voters can give him a little bit of a boost just before we get into Iowa.” 

Still, both strategies come with significant potential pitfalls.

History suggests skipping four states that in the past have been game changers could be a gamble. Rudy Giuliani, Bloomberg’s mayoral predecessor, adopted the same tactic during his 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, only to drop out of the race before the end of January. 

Meanwhile, Patrick, besides having to kick his fundraising efforts into overdrive and boost his name recognition, will have to convince voters across the ideological spectrum that he is a worthy alternative to both Biden and Warren, his home state senator.

Some prognosticators maintain that both Bloomberg and Patrick entered too late to ultimately win the Democratic presidential nomination and that neither strategy will pay off down the stretch.

“It’s just two different ways to lose because they both got in too late,” Democratic strategist Eddie Vale told The Hill. “If you compete in the early states and don’t do well, you’re done. Skipping all of the early states while the other candidates get all the attention and momentum also results in a loss.” 

“They both already lost before they got in,” he added.

Tags 2020 election Bernie Sanders Deval Patrick Deval Patrick Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg Michael Bloomberg Rudy Giuliani

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