As Wall Street donors coalesce around Joe Biden, people inside his campaign are indicating the 2020 hopeful is on the verge of raising significant amounts of money that could be leveraged even further thanks to what appears to be an unlikely source: Michael Bloomberg.
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Wall Street executives working with the Biden camp say there is a quiet, unofficial “non-aggression pact” with the Bloomberg campaign in which both sides have agreed to refrain from direct attacks — at least for the near term. Biden’s campaign advisers are telling their Wall Street backers that the agreement is working: Bloomberg — a multibillionaire businessman and former New York City mayor — has spent more than $200 million in political ads, mostly attacking President Trump and touting his own record, but he hasn’t cracked the top tier in national polling of Democratic nominees.
Meanwhile, Biden has maintained strength in national polls and in fundraising, as FOX Business reported Monday, attracting a slew of new supporters from the finance sector in recent weeks. Biden’s strength is surprising given the controversies surrounding his son Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine and his own sometimes uneven campaigning. What’s more, he appears to be the candidate poised to clean up in the all-important Super Tuesday states, where a slew of primaries on March 3 could determine the 2020 Democratic nominee.
Press officials from the Biden and Bloomberg campaigns didn’t return emails for comment.
In many ways, Bloomberg and Biden are running on similar platforms: Both are considered moderates in a field that touts a Democratic socialist like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and far-left progressives such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg is worth an estimated $54 billion for creating the eponymous Bloomberg LP, a financial data and news company. He served three largely successful terms as New York mayor stressing fiscal discipline and tough crime measures but also progressive social policies like gun control.
Biden is a long-time Democrat senator from Delaware and President Obama’s vice president. Despite some liberal positions, he has maintained close ties to the business community (several large financial firms are headquartered in Delaware) and has staked out some moderate positions. He has recently criticized big-spending bonanzas offered by Warren and Sanders, including government-paid universal health care.
So far in the campaign, Biden has raised $36 million, compared with $73 million for Sanders, $60 million for Warren, and $51 million for South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. Trump has raised $165 million and is expected to raise $1 billion or more given the pace of his recent fundraising. But Bloomberg, given his enormously liquid net worth, could outspend all of them combined either for his own campaign or in support of a Democratic nominee.
In September, FOX Business reported Bloomberg had met with Biden and brokered a truce before either had officially announced they would seek the Democratic nomination. The truce has lasted well into the campaign even as the February Iowa caucus approaches, marking the first time Democrats will cast official votes at the ballot box.
But people close to Biden say the agreement will likely be put to the test again soon after Iowa. Amid his spending blitz, Bloomberg has inched up in national polling, ranking behind Biden, Warren and Buttigieg. If Bloomberg does well in the Super Tuesday contest – where 40 percent of the total delegates are up for grabs from a slew of diverse states – he may see a path to winning the election outright or possibly through a so-called brokered convention, where no one candidate is the clear winner and convention delegates decide the nominee after a series of ballots.
If Bloomberg sees such a scenario where he could be the winner, people inside the Biden camp expect him to apply his unlimited resources, possibly against other candidates. If Bloomberg flops on Super Tuesday, Biden campaign insiders believe he will stay in the race to weaken Trump through attack ads and get-out-the-vote efforts for the general election. They also believe he will maintain his non-aggression pact with Biden to beat back challenges from Warren and Sanders.
“Bloomberg could force a brokered convention in order to prevent a Sanders nomination,” said Omeed Malik, founder of the brokerage firm Favahar Partners who is involved in national Democratic Party politics on a fundraising level. “Even if he doesn’t win, and he picks up a significant number of super Tuesday delegates, he can transfer them to his nominee of choice. Meanwhile, he’s there to spend on a Biden-esque candidate’s behalf.”
Wall Street Democrats were spread fairly even among various candidates except Sanders and Warren, given their vitriolic attacks against big business and plans to propose massive regulations. But as the field narrowed somewhat (On Monday, New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker dropped out of the race), and Biden has gained some strength, financiers have voted with the feet and have been embracing the former vice president’s campaign.
FOX Business reported that recent converts to the Biden camp attended a meeting last week hosted by his campaign. The attendees include Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital, Ray McGuire, the global head of banking at Citigroup Inc., Roger Altman, the former Clinton deputy treasury secretary and now chairman of Evercore Inc., Centerview Partners co-founder Blair Effron, Tony James of the Blackstone Group, Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly, Alan Patricof, the founder of Greycroft Partners, and former U.S. ambassador to France Jane Hartley.
Officials representing these executives either declined comment or did not return calls for comment.