We’ll soon see what $500 million can buy

by Chuck Malloy
| March 2, 2020 2:50 PM

It doesn’t take a political genius to know that a Republican presidential nominee will carry Idaho by a wide margin. As a result, it doesn’t make sense for candidates on either side to spend much time and resources in the Gem State.

That is, except for former New York Mike Bloomberg, who has been bombarding the state with campaign advertising – creating a narrative as to why he is the best Democratic candidate to beat President Trump. Depending on what happens this month (Idaho’s primary is March 10), Bloomberg’s strategy either will turn out to be brilliant, or the biggest waste of a half a billion dollars in the history of American politics.

In Idaho (and other states), he’s betting on positive results. In addition to those wall-to-wall TV ads, he has opened three field offices (Boise, Pocatello and Coeur d’Alene). Erin Hudson, who has worked on campaigns for former state Rep. Mat Erpelding of Boise, is the communication director.

“He not only has invested in Idaho, but he’s hired people in Idaho who know issues that are important to Democratic voters,” she says.

A few weeks ago, a letter from Bloomberg’s campaign was sent to my house, outlining his agenda.

“Now, the biggest fight of our lives lies ahead – a fight to beat Trump and rebuild America,” he says. “We’re going to save Obamacare and make sure everyone is guaranteed health care. We’re going to protect Social Security and Medicare and create good jobs with good wages. We’re going to pass commonsense gun safety reform to keep our families safe. And we’re going to finally take climate change seriously and fight to save the only planet we’ve got. But it all starts with beating Trump in 2020. So, let’s get it done.”

It had all the trappings of a fund-raising letter, with one exception. It didn’t ask for money – the usual $5, $50 or $100 “to help us with this important cause.” Of course, a guy with more than $60 billion in his bank account doesn’t need to beg for money. If Bloomberg wanted to declare “checkmate” on the socialist candidates running, he’d make a deal with America. Put him in office, and he’ll send $1 million to every man, woman and child, with no questions asked. Suddenly, we’d have the kind of economy that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren talk so much about … one that works for everybody.

Wouldn’t it be fun to see Bernie say something nice about a billionaire?

At the moment, Bloomberg’s challenge is gaining traction in a crowded field of candidates. He has made three good points recently.

•One, he was horrible in the debate in Las Vegas (although marginally better in South Carolina). Hudson puts a more charitable spin on his Las Vegas performance. “He kept his cool at all times,” she said. Of course, the same could have been said about Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s calm nature moments before he was executed.

•Two, the “real winner” of that debate was President Trump. He won again in South Carolina, which had the decorum of a barroom drinking game. If everybody on the stage took a shot of whiskey every time Sanders said “billionaires,” there wouldn’t be a sober person standing. But it would provide great entertainment for the TV audience.

•Three, nominating Sanders would be a grave mistake for Democrats. I’ll take it a step further; he’s unelectable. One question that these journalistic media stars are not pressing him on is how he’d get all his lofty plans – Medicare for all, free education, etc. – through Congress. He wouldn’t get a single Republican vote, and it’s questionable if he could win over most Democrats. Not all Democrats see Sweden and Denmark as role models for our form of government.

The question is who can stop Sanders’ roll to the nomination. Bloomberg, for one, recognizes that Democrats can’t beat Trump without the help of independents and disgruntled Republicans. If Democrats are serious about winning, which is what everybody on the debate stages have been talking about, they might need to take a closer look at the guy who can dump another billion dollars or two in the campaign without flinching.

Otherwise, we can look forward to another four years of Donald Trump.

Chuck Malloy, a long-time Idaho journalist, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.