Most of all, Bernie can’t be happy. If any other Democrat gets the nomination, that person can expect a big financial push from Bloomberg. If Sanders wins the nomination, he can expect an endorsement but much less munificence. Nearly all of the current Democrats in the field have reason to expect that Bloomberg, if he were to be elected president, would appoint them to executive-branch positions or tap them as running mates. Bernie Sanders has no reason to expect such things. As Bloomberg has said of Sanders, “I don’t agree with him on virtually anything,” and Bloomberg’s very presence in the race is intended to offer voters a robust anti-Sanders alternative. Most galling, the deflation of Biden’s support among black voters, which was supposed to inflate Bernie’s support among those voters, has instead been inflating support for Bloomberg. It’s like shooing away a squirrel only to find it’s been replaced by a bear.
This is one reason why Sanders and his team have been going harder at Bloomberg than at any other rival. “I don’t begrudge his wealth, but I do begrudge a billionaire thinking he can buy the election,” he told NBC’s Lester Holt. Sanders’s team, for its part, has been amplifying the controversy over comments by Bloomberg at the Aspen Institute in 2015, when he defended a policy of stopping and frisking young New Yorkers, most of them black and Latino. “Ninety-five percent of your murders, murderers and murder victims, fit one MO. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city,” Bloomberg told the audience, adding that “the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.” It’s the hope of Sanders supporters that black Democrats will sour on Bloomberg after learning about this, but they can’t count on such an outcome, and Bloomberg has lots of moves available to him for regaining ground.