Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is putting his considerable media fortune to good use this election cycle and in the most bipartisan way — supporting Democrats and Republicans that he thinks are both energetic and interested in compromise.
"He wants to elect people who are open and actually inclined to work with people across the aisle," Bloomberg's political adviser, Howard Wolfson, told The New York Times
of his political investments.
All told, Bloomberg, who is worth a reported $34 billion, is expected to spend about $25 million from his Independence USA PAC before the Nov. 4 election is here, the Times noted.
In Michigan, for example, Bloomberg is assisting incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder, an entrepreneur and Republican who is in a close gubernatorial race, kicking in a considerable $2.3 million in television ad spending to assure that business-friendly Snyder stays in Lansing. At the same time, Bloomberg is also offering money for television ads to support Democratic congressional candidate Gary Peters.
In Massachusetts, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker is reaping Bloomberg's largesse as he takes on Democrat Martha Coakley in a tight contest, USA Today reported
. Baker, who lost a similar bid to lead Massachusetts in 2010, was called "bold" and "innovative" by Wolfson, a candidate deserving of support because "he has always been willing to reach across the aisle to put taxpayers above partisan politics."
Bloomberg's deep independence follows along in his own career in politics where the then-Democrat changed parties in 2001 to win election in the Big Apple as a Republican — and then managed his city his own way as observers had trouble typecasting him politically. By 2007, however, he was done with the GOP and declared himself independent, the Times reported
He made clear his thinking in a 2007 statement announcing his swap. "A nonpartisan approach has worked wonders in New York: we’ve balanced budgets, grown our economy, improved public health, reformed the school system and made the nation’s safest city even safer," Bloomberg said.
"We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face."
Nearly eight years later, his support list for moderates remains complex. In California, he's contributing to the campaign of gay San Diego U.S. House candidate Carl DeMaio, a Republican, while at the same time funding the campaign of Inland Empire Democrat Pete Aguilar, who is also making a House bid, the Times noted.
Earlier in 2014, before campaign season kicked into high gear, Bloomberg showed his independent streak by funding such seemingly disparate interests as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Planned Parenthood, according to the Times, while also shelling out money to Rep. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's super PAC as well as the Senate Majority PAC, which goes to support Democrats.
Such private spending on campaigns sent PBS, in September to explore the notion of "Are Billionaires Dictating American Political Debate?"
Noted author Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, in an interview with PBS' Jeffrey Brown of the 2014 midterm financing: "The Koch brothers are estimated to be spending $125 million just on this election year, much of it focused on those key Senate races, but then liberal and moderate billionaires also are amping up their resources. Michael Bloomberg has put $50 million into fighting the NRA and gun violence. Tom Steyer is very concerned about climate change. He’s spending $50 million of his own money. So, 2014 is shaping up as the battle of the billionaires."
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