Now’s a time to take a look at who’s blooming

Armstrong Williams | 2/27/2020, 1:41 p.m.
The media and initial caucus results would lead you to believe that Democrats are coalescing around presidential candidates Bernie Sanders ...
Armstrong Williams

The media and initial caucus results would lead you to believe that Democrats are coalescing around presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg 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 Biden who, until recently, was considered by many in the party as the Democrats’ best hope for defeating Pres. Trump.

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 its 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.

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 bloc 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 three 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.

Pres. 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.