Bloomberg Vowed To Spend Whatever It Takes To Beat Trump. Democrats Are Still Waiting

July 29 , 2020 1:18 AM

Mike Bloomberg, seen here speaking to supporters and staff in March in New York City, spent $1 billion of his own fortune to run for president but exited the race early on.

Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET

When a billionaire with a history of investing generously and strategically in campaigns promised to spend whatever it takes to defeat President Trump, it made Democrats sit up and take notice.

And how did they interpret that pledge from former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg?

"It meant spending about a billion dollars," said Jim Messina, who ran President Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. "It meant making sure that Donald Trump did not have the typical incumbent advantage on finance, and it meant helping us catch up in a couple places where Trump was well ahead of us, which was digital and data."

It is the most ambitious campaign promise ever made by someone who isn't still running, and Bloomberg fully intends to fulfill it, according to former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the national political chair of Bloomberg's short-lived primary campaign, in which the candidate spent $1 billion of his own fortune. But Nutter also says that "whatever it takes" can't be defined simply by a specific dollar amount; instead it's about how and where Bloomberg spends his money this year.

Bloomberg has already spent well over $350 million for Democrats this cycle, according to his team, including the following investments:

  • $275 million in anti-Trump ads during his primary campaign
  • $35 million for a digital and data platform he gives to Democratic campaigns at cost.
  • $18 million transferred from his campaign to the Democratic Party.
  • $10 million to House Majority PAC, the lead outside group backing House Democrats.
  • $5 million to Fair Fight, the voting rights group led by Stacey Abrams.
  • $2 million to Collective Future, focused on registering Black voters in key states.
  • $2 million to Swing Left, which supports Democratic volunteer efforts.
  • $500,000 to Voto Latino, focused on registering young Latino and Hispanic voters.

Altogether, it makes Bloomberg the single biggest donor to the Democrats this year, and it's having an impact on the ground, according to party strategists in battleground states.

North Carolina is one of those, and it has pretty much every political prize on the line in November with competitive contests for president, U.S. Senate, U.S. House seats, governor and control of the state Legislature, with redistricting looming next year.

"What the Bloomberg campaign did right was they put money into field organizing," said state Rep. Graig Meyer, who is in charge of fundraising and recruiting for Democratic Statehouse candidates. "And so that getting campaign operations up and running, building a volunteer base, setting up the structure for direct voter contact — all of that is happening because they made that investment through the DNC."

But to give Democrats in North Carolina a real advantage, Bloomberg could do a lot more, according to Meyer.

"In no way has the Bloomberg operation put direct money into down-ticket races besides through the overall coordinated effort [with the DNC]," he said, adding, "$30 or $50 million is probably the right amount that would be a completely transformative game changer. I imagine Bloomberg could afford to do $30 to $50 million in North Carolina if he wanted to."

The Democratic leader in the North Carolina House of Representatives was even tougher on Bloomberg.