Michael Bloomberg says he will not run for US president this year

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former three-term mayor of New York, said he's decided against entering the 2016 presidential race, removing one of the remaining uncertainties in what already has been an unusual and unpredictable election year.

Bloomberg, 74, who had said the 2016 presidential campaign has been marred by appeals to extremism and was an insult to voters, was expected to spend a sizable amount of his own fortune if he entered the race.

His decision to stay out coincided with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's increasing tally of Democratic delegates won in primary election victories during the past two weeks.

Bloomberg has known Clinton for decades, and worked closely with her between 2001 and 2009, while he served as mayor and she represented New York in the US Senate.

Bloomberg's advisers had said privately they felt they could get enough signatures on petitions to place him on ballots in all 50 states. Their rationale was grounded in a belief that Democrats and Republicans offered relatively inexperienced or ideologically driven candidates.

Republican Donald Trump, the bombastic billionaire and television celebrity who is that party's front-runner, has insulted opponents and vowed to bar Muslims from entering the US. He and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, hold views opposed to Bloomberg's avowed principles.

But Bloomberg faced the historic hurdle that no independent or third-party presidential candidate has won the presidency. Scholars and analysts said it wasn't clear that there was a realistic path for Bloomberg under the two-party system. An Associated Press poll Feb 24 reported that 7 per cent of registered voters said they definitely would vote for him, while 29 percent said they'd consider it. About six in 10 Democrats and Republicans ruled out voting for him, according to the poll.

In order to win, Bloomberg would have had to win pluralities in enough states to capture 270 electoral votes. The Constitution also provides for the election to be thrown into the House of Representatives to decide if no candidate can secure those votes, though that method has has been used only twice, after the elections in 1800 and 1824. That body is controlled by a Republican majority.

"Unfortunately for him, the structural deck is stacked against him," said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, in an interview last month after Bloomberg told the Financial Times he was considering a candidacy.