Now's a time to take a look at who's 'blooming' among Democrats

Now's a time to take a look at who's 'blooming' among Democrats
© Getty Images

The media and initial caucus results would lead you to believe that Democrats are coalescing around presidential candidates Bernie SandersBernie SandersPresident Trump faces Herculean task in first debate The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments MORE and Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegCindy McCain joins board of Biden's presidential transition team Billionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November MORE as likely party nominees for the November election. Although both made strong showings in the first primaries, with Sanders (I-Vt.) winning New Hampshire and Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, edging ahead to a photo finish in Iowa, a dark horse is emerging: former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg.

As any chess player knows, the opening gambit can mask a subtle war plan that is not plainly obvious at first glance. As chess pieces — or, in this case, candidates — leave the board, the battlefield calculus can change radically and rapidly. At this point, pundits and commentators across the board seem to be writing off former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenTop House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents Judge's ruling creates fresh hurdle for Trump's TikTok ban Harris says she hasn't 'made a plan one way or another' on meeting Supreme Court nominee MORE who, until recently, was considered by many in the party as the Democrats’ best hope for defeating President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau intends to wrap up count on Oct. 5 despite judge's order Top House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents New Yorkers report receiving ballots with wrong name, voter addresses MORE

Although he was not the one on trial in the Senate, Biden appears to have taken a worse beating than Trump during the impeachment fiasco and has fallen out of favor. The innuendo about his involvement in Ukraine may have found their mark. Biden’s showings in Iowa, where he was a distant fourth behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and in New Hampshire, where he came in fifth, seem to signal a death-knell to his campaign. Add to this mix the disorganized start to the primaries, with a data glitch postponing the Iowa results, and it seems that Democrats are in for a long campaign season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Biden’s weaknesses as a candidate and the party disorganization, however, do not automatically translate into advantages for Sanders and Buttigieg. Rather, they could provide an opening for Bloomberg, a candidate with one of the largest war chests in American political history.  Bloomberg is not a mere billionaire running on a whim and a prayer, like Trump and Democrat Tom Steyer. Bloomberg has name recognition and his centrist liberal policies, which mirror Biden’s in many respects, make him suddenly the safer candidate in the eyes of many voters than a radical such as Sanders. 

Furthermore — and this bears emphasizing — the growing potential for Biden’s exit from the race leaves open the question of the black vote. Biden has proven his ability to connect with African American voters, a key voting block in the South and key to Democrats’ ultimate destiny in the general election.

Buttigieg has polled abysmally among black voters in the South; in one poll, he failed to register more than 3 percent support among likely voters in South Carolina. Sanders’s democratic socialism — a bold experiment that many in the nation seem to embrace — does not really resonate with black voters, who seem to prefer the devil that they know among traditional Democrats. In recent polls, Biden garnered more than double Sanders’s support among African Americans. However, if Biden leaves the board, there’s a huge opening for a candidate with unlimited pockets and name recognition, such as Bloomberg, to vie for the African American vote.

President Trump is not naïve to this reality and has gone on the offense by attacking Bloomberg via tweets, even though the former mayor has yet to garner a single delegate. Unlike many of Trump’s targets, however, Bloomberg has proven to be remarkably immune to the president’s attempts to belittle him. Like Trump, Bloomberg is a hardened New Yorker accustomed to wielding both power and influence. He may even exceed Trump, in terms of his record of achievement as a politician. After all, he persuaded the city to make an unprecedented exception to its term limits for mayor, which resulted in his historic third term. Make no mistake, Bloomberg is not afraid of Trump and relishes a chance to face him in the fall.

Another point worth noting: Where Bloomberg is weak, Trump is nominally weaker. The president has attempted to castigate Bloomberg as a racist in light of a resurfacing story that, as mayor, Bloomberg targeted young African Americans and Hispanic males for heightened scrutiny under his controversial stop-and-frisk program. However, Trump himself is on record as a supporter of stop and frisk and has his own perceived racial issues to deal with. 

ADVERTISEMENT

And unlike Sanders and Buttigieg, Bloomberg’s record as a capitalist who helped revive New York City’s economy makes him impervious to the “S-word” — socialist — that seems to be overtaking the Democratic Party. Bloomberg may be a liberal who believes in big government but he’s certainly not to be mistaken for a socialist.

Bloomberg has other advantages. He runs a global media empire that is larger in scale than Fox News, the president’s primary outlet. He has close ties with the business and banking communities. He has access to an almost unrivaled store of demographic and financial data as a pollster and financial markets information provider. Add to this his considerable fortune — reported to be more than $60 billion — and you have a potentially formidable challenger against Trump.

But the biggest advantage the Democrats and Bloomberg have in this race is Trump’s propensity for self-destruction. It seems the more mistakes he survives — from the Mueller investigation to his impeachment, and now the needless Roger Stone sentencing fiasco — the more emboldened he becomes. Odds are the president’s recklessness is bound to catch up with him. His aides and defenders likely are weary after four years of turmoil and controversy. The president’s tendency to engage in petty battles when the real prize is at stake is perhaps the greatest peril to his chances to win a second term.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”