Brown and Bloomberg are out, giving Democratic presidential field some room

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

While the crowd of 2020 Democratic candidates has swelled lately, two well-known potential contenders surprised the country by taking a rare course and announced that they aren’t running for president. Billionaire and Democratic megadonor Michael Bloomberg opted not to run on Tuesday, even after assembling a staff and picking a potential campaign HQ. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a labor advocate from a swing state, said he wanted to stay in the Senate on Thursday.

Brown was involved in Ohio politics since the 1970s and was a U.S. House member from 1993 to 2007. Since 2007, he has been one of the staunchest progressive voices in the Senate mostly due to his criticism of free trade and Wall Street and his support of unions. Because he represents Ohio, a Midwestern swing state, Brown has received party attention for being a popular Democratic senator in a state trending Republican. In 2016, he was on Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential shortlist.

Brown is also a robust fundraiser. From 2013-2018, his reelection campaign raised more than $28.6 million, while the average Senate member seeking reelection in 2018 only raised around $16.7 million over the same six-year period. He ranked at or the near the top of numerous industries — he was the number one recipient of air transport union money; the number two recipient of environmental, LGBT issues, hospitals/nursing homes, industrial unions, miscellaneous unions, pro-abortion rights groups and steel production money.

He actually had more women (23,016) donate to him than men (18,401), something that could have helped him in the primary, as Democratic women have become a more powerful fundraising force.

Brown’s leadership PAC, America Works, has been operating since 1998 and has become a solid fundraising tool. Most of the top donors to America Works in the 2018 cycle were PACs, largely ones affiliated with various labor organizations. PACs from groups as varied as Amalgamated Bank to the American Federation of Teachers to Google all donated $10,000 each. The leadership PAC raised more than $858,000 and contributed $266,500 to other Democrats in 2018.

Bloomberg also passes on running

Rather than enter the primary fray, Bloomberg said in his announcement he would launch the Beyond Carbon campaign to move towards a 100 percent clean energy and redouble his Beyond Coal efforts to close the remaining coal power plants, joining up with powerful environmental group Sierra Club. He also said he would continue his work supporting gun control legislation.

Had he run, Bloomberg said he would self-fund his campaign, a position which liberal Democrats, including 2020 candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), criticized. Additionally, Bloomberg’s most prominent endorsement as he considered was fellow billionaire Warren Buffett.

Bloomberg has become one of the nation’s largest megadonors, ranking in the top 10 individual contributors in every cycle since 2010. In 2018, Bloomberg spent the second-most, nearly $95 million, making him the top individual contributor to liberal causes in the cycle. During the 2016 presidential election, he ranked eighth overall with more than $23.7 million in contributions toward Democratic causes.   

The founder and CEO of Bloomberg LP, a global financial services and media company, Bloomberg is ranked by Forbes as the 11th richest man in the world with a net worth of $50 billion. He entered the political realm as the Republican Mayor of New York City in 2001, a position he held for 12 years. During that time, he switched his party affiliation to Independent. After leaving political office, he was a major philanthropist giving more than $6.4 billion to charitable causes, including a $1.8 billion gift to John Hopkins University for student financial aid — the largest private donation for education in modern history.

In 2008, 2012 and 2016, Bloomberg weighed centrist, independent bids for president before backing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In late 2018, he registered as a Democrat in preparation for his presidential run before he decided against it.

Bloomberg primarily funds the liberal super PAC Independence USA which spent almost $37.5 million in independent expenditures during the 2018 cycle. The group spent $28 million in support of Democratic candidates and around $9.5 million opposing Republicans. It was arguably the most successful super PAC in the cycle, with almost 90 percent of its money supporting winning candidates. Bloomberg provided an overwhelming portion of the super PAC’s funding, giving almost $63.5 million to it.

Bloomberg also was the third largest contributor to controversial Democratic group Votevets, giving them more than $1.5 million. He trailed only Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, which are aligned with Democratic party leadership.

Bloomberg is also one of the founders of Everytown for Gun Safety, a pro-gun control organization functions as a sort-of counterweight to the NRA. In the 2018 election, the group’s affiliate Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund spent almost $4.2 million.

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