Bloomberg to speak at Democratic convention, angering some liberals

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that he will speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, in an announcement that was met with anger by some party operatives and activists.

A Democratic official said that Bloomberg will speak on Thursday, the final night of the convention, when former Vice President Joe Biden will deliver his speech accepting the party’s presidential nomination.

“This November, America has the opportunity to turn the page on the last four years & invest in our future,” Bloomberg tweeted. “That starts at the @DemConvention when we nominate @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris. I’m honored to be speaking at the DNC next week. I hope you’ll join us.”

Bloomberg’s political organization, in an email to supporters, said he will talk about “why we have the best candidates to meet today’s challenges and get big things done.”

Bloomberg jumped into the Democratic presidential primary long after much of the field, arguing that he did so to stop the rise of more liberal candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The former mayor and businessman, who has been a Republican, a Democrat and an independent in his career, ended up spending more than $1 billion on his campaign, an astonishing number that dwarfed every other candidate in the race. But that money led to Bloomberg winning just one contest — the primary in America Samoa — and the billionaire dropped out in March.

Bloomberg, to date, has been one of the biggest Democratic donors of the cycle, transferring $18 million to the Democratic National Committee via his presidential committee in March, along with millions in donations to other Democratic organizations.

Although Bloomberg’s giving has been sizable, the millions pale in comparison with the billion that Bloomberg spent on his own presidential run, where he fought back charges of buying the election by pledging to spend whatever it takes to defeat President Donald Trump — whether or not he is the nominee.

Bloomberg also angered campaign staffers, who had been wooed to work for him by promises of guaranteed jobs through November. Once he dropped out, however, those jobs went away, and aides were just encouraged to apply to jobs that his $18 million to the DNC helped create.

All of this, as well as a campaign where he ran against the left of the Democratic Party, helped create sizable disdain for Bloomberg among liberals, many of whom now see his inclusion in the party’s quadrennial national gathering as a slap in the face

“Bloomberg does not share the best interests of the Democratic Party and he certainly doesn’t share the core values of the Democratic Party,” said Murshed Zaheed, a longtime progressive activist and strategist who was a vocal support of Warren during the primary.

Zaheed, along with other activists, said the more upsetting aspect of Bloomberg’s inclusion is when you compare it with top Democrats who were not given time to speak.

“It is just absurd and preposterous,” Zaheed said, “that he is giving someone like Bloomberg some time but not giving any time to Julian Castro, who is one of the brightest stars of this party.”

Castro, a former Cabinet secretary in the Obama administration who also ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 2020, has not been asked to speak at the convention but will participate in a prerecorded segment that includes a number of Democrats who ran for president this year.

“Latinos are poised to be the biggest nonwhite voting bloc in November,” Sawyer Hackett, a Castro aide, said in a statement. “To give Latino leaders the same amount of time as Republicans at the Democratic National Convention is absurd.”

And Nelini Stamp, the national director of strategy and partnerships at the Working Families Party, said Bloomberg’s inclusion shows Democrats are “prioritizing a billionaire” when the party needs young people and Latinos to turn out in November.

“Michael Bloomberg should not be on the program,” Stamp said. “Just read the room. I don’t know if a billionaire should be speaking at this moment. Read the room.”