Bloomberg floods Ohio, other battlegrounds with ad spending over holiday

    Michael Bloomberg Speech
    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seen speaking at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in August 2019. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

    If you watched any football over the lengthy Thanksgiving weekend, chances were you couldn’t go a quarter of play without seeing an advertisement for Michael Bloomberg.

    The 77-year-old former mayor of New York City is the latest Democrat to announce his candidacy for president. He recently spent millions of dollars on an initial, extensive ad buy throughout the United States, including in Ohio and a number of other battleground states.

    In total, Bloomberg spent $35 million in just a week’s time on TV ads, a media tracker told Axios. That is more than what King’s Island is spending to build its massive new gigacoaster, Orion, set to debut a few months after the Ohio primary election. 

    With Bloomberg estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $54.5 billion, his $35 million ad buy is the equivalent of a median income household in America spending $38 on a family dinner. 

    Though he ran two mayoral campaigns as a Republican (and a third as an independent), Bloomberg intends to run for president as a Democrat. The billionaire plans to entirely self-finance his campaign, which means he will not qualify to participate in any of the Democratic National Committee’s debates. The DNC has certain polling requirements and donation minimums in order to make it on stage. 

    That strategy might be by design for Bloomberg, who spent the run-up to his presidential launch apologizing for his previous support as NYC mayor for policies such as “stop-and-frisk.” Avoiding the debate stage would mean not having to defend from such attacks; and though he is campaigning to defeat President Donald Trump, Bloomberg’s status as a New York City billionaire with an eponymous slate of brands could offer his Democratic opponents a chance to make unfavorable comparisons in a high-profile setting.

    His ads, “Promise” and “Rebuild the Country,” offer a quick slideshow of his entrepreneurial and political upbringing. Bloomberg’s company is referenced only in passing (and not by name) in noting that he has created 20,000 jobs. 

    “In the shadow of 9/11, Mike is elected mayor of a shaken city,” one of the ads continues. “He rebuilds, creating 400,000 new jobs to help the struggling middle class…”

    That ad concludes by stating Bloomberg is running to defeat Trump. The words “wealthy pay fair share” are shown against a backdrop of Trump Tower. 

    The other spot notes his involvement with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and work to “protect this planet from climate change.” It is said that under a Bloomberg administration, “everyone without health insurance can get it, and everyone who likes theirs (can) keep it.”

    The filing deadline to appear on the Democratic presidential ballot in Ohio is Dec. 18. The primary election is set for March 17, 2020.

    Tyler Buchanan
    Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.