Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg is strongly considering entering the race for the US Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
The ex-New York City mayor is concerned the current field of candidates is not good enough to beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election, his spokesman says.
The 77-year-old is expected to file paperwork this week for the Democratic presidential primary in Alabama.
A total of 17 candidates are currently vying to take on President Trump.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are the Democratic frontrunners.
Some recent opinion polls have suggested that Ms Warren and Mr Sanders – who are regarded as to the left of Mr Biden – might lose against Republican Mr Trump if either won the party’s nomination.
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Mr Bloomberg’s spokesman said: “We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated. But Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that.”
A New York billionaire as president?
So far this is only a single toe entering the water, but it’s a significant one. The presence of the former New York mayor and multi-billionaire would set alight the race for the Democratic Party nomination.
The politician closest to Mr Bloomberg’s centrist outlook is Joe Biden – but his campaign appears to be fading.
Mr Bloomberg has, I understand, been doing a lot of polling in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
This isn’t the first time that he’s eyed a run at the presidency, only to eventually decide against.
But in the past he’s ruled himself out because he thought Americans wouldn’t vote for a billionaire New York businessman. That concern no longer applies.
Who is Michael Bloomberg?
Mr Bloomberg was a Wall Street banker who went on to found the financial publishing empire which bears his name. A philanthropist, he has donated millions of dollars to educational, medical and other causes.
Originally a Democrat, he became a Republican to mount a successful campaign for mayor of New York City in 2001.
He went on to serve three terms as mayor until 2012, rejoining the Democratic Party only last year.
Regarded as a moderate Democrat, he has highlighted climate change as a key issue, but he had appeared to dismiss a potential run for the presidency earlier this year.
Mr Bloomberg is a large financial backer of gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, which he helped found in 2014.
The group, and Mr Bloomberg, were seen as playing a major role in a sweeping victory for Democrats in Virginia state elections earlier this week.
They vastly outspent gun lobby group the National Rifle Association – which is based in Virginia – by pumping $2.5m (£1.94m) into the state race.