Michael Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the COP 21 climate conference in France last month. (Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

A run by the former New York City mayor could upset an already volatile contest
By Mara Gay
Updated Jan. 23, 2016 – 11:59 p.m. ET

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seriously considering a run for president and is asking aides to explore a potential bid.

Mr. Bloomberg, 73 years old, has long contemplated a run at the White House. But the unlikely rise and continued strength of Donald Trump, along with polls suggesting Hillary Clinton’s campaign may be flagging, have driven the billionaire businessman closer than ever before to entering the race, a close adviser said Saturday.

Eyeing a potential opening for the first time, Mr. Bloomberg has retained a consultant to help him run on the independent ballot in state primaries. He has commissioned polls to test his path to victory. And he has directed the close circle of advisers who worked for him as mayor and have remained by his side over the past two years since he left office to begin mapping out a blueprint for a run, one adviser said.

That adviser said the former mayor has been upset by what he sees as extremist rhetoric from Republicans in the race, as well as a leftward turn from Mrs. Clinton, who is fending off an unexpectedly strong challenge in the Democratic primary from the more liberal Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Mr. Bloomberg’s path to victory remains narrow and unlikely. His outspoken support for gun control, for example, as well as other liberal social views, could dissuade some Republicans from backing him. His more conservative record on policing, as well as his background on Wall Street, could prevent him from picking up crucial support among some Democrats.

Mr. Bloomberg, who founded the media company that bears his namesake, Bloomberg LP, has a history of switching parties, first running for mayor in 2001 as a Republican before switching his affiliation to independent. He served three terms as New York mayor.

He is likely to make a decision on the presidential bid sometime in March.

If he runs, Mr. Bloomberg is likely to face hurdles with voters, especially those outside the Northeast, where he is better known. A recent poll by Morning Consult showed Mr. Bloomberg receiving 13% support from voters, Democrat Hillary Clinton getting 36% and Republican Donald Trump 37%. The same poll found that 43% of voters either hadn’t heard of Mr. Bloomberg or had no opinion. Morning Consult said the poll was conducted from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17 among a sample of 4,060 registered voters around the country.

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