AFGE [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON, /Xinhua/

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday took a step toward a presidential run as a Democratic candidate, making some wonder whether the timing is too late for launching a successful campaign.

Bloomberg on Friday filed to run in the U.S. state of Alabama’s Democratic presidential primary in 2020. The former New York mayor’s representatives submitted paperwork with the Alabama Democratic Party to place his name on the ballot for the March 3 Super Tuesday contest, although he did not officially announce his candidacy.

The billionaire filed in Alabama because of that state’s early filing deadline, which was Friday, media outlets reported.

“It’s tough to see much of a path forward for Bloomberg. The other candidates have been running for months or years and are generally known to activists and voters at this point,” Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua.

“There are plenty of candidates with solid credentials stuck in the single digits. I just don’t see a Mike Bloomberg-shaped hole in the race that’s been patiently waiting for him,” Galdieri said.

When asked whether Bloomberg might be a Democratic alternative to U.S. President Donald Trump, Galdieri said it’s likely too late for such a figure to enter the fray.

“If he’d been running since February that might have become something that helped define his campaign. But at this point I don’t think it gets him very far,” Galdieri said.

Bloomberg advisor Howard Wolfson acknowledged that sentiment, telling CNN “many candidates already have a big head start in the four early states, where they’ve spent months and months campaigning and spending money,” but added that Bloomberg’s plan “is to run a broad-based, national campaign.”

Trump on Friday mocked Bloomberg as “little Michael”, telling reporters he “doesn’t have the magic” to clinch the White House and calling him a “nothing” who “will fail” if he enters the Democratic race.

Other experts said that while the billionaire has the cash to self-fund his campaign, his rich-man status will be a tough sell to the party’s base, as Democrats have taken a hard leftward shift.

“Bloomberg is a major candidate because he is well-known and able to self-fund his campaign,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua, but added that “it will be challenging for him since the party has moved to the left.”

Indeed, two of the three top Democratic contenders are far leftists, with one, Sen. Bernie Sanders, being a self-described socialist. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s policies are also far to the left, and the two front-runners are fond of bashing the wealthy.

On the other hand, Bloomberg is towing the party line on other issues.

“There have been many attacks on the wealthy and Bloomberg is seen as close to Wall Street. But he is in sync with the party on the need for action on gun violence and climate change,” West said.

Bloomberg’s move also underscores deep divisions in the Democratic Party, with the base taking a hard leftward turn, but with moderates seeking a more centrist candidate.

“Democrats already are divided between moderates and progressives. But as (Joe) Biden has declined in some polls, there is an opening for a moderate Democrat to gain from Biden’s demise,” West said, referring to the former vice president.

“Bloomberg would match up well with Trump as a successful businessman whom the establishment likes and is not as far to the left as Sanders and Warren,” West said.

Some experts argue he can fare well if he takes an interest in those who are being left behind.

“Bloomberg could conceivably do well if he showed real willingness to heed people’s concern with growing inequality,” Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua.

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