Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will not run for president, he announced Tuesday.
In a column for Bloomberg Opinion, he wrote, "I've come to realize that I’m less interested in talking than doing. And I have concluded that, for now, the best way for me to help our country is by rolling up my sleeves and continuing to get work done."
The decision comes after months of planning for a potential Democratic campaign, and suggestions that he was now taking the idea more seriously than he had in the past.
Bloomberg had flirted with running for president before, including in 2016 before he ultimately backed Hillary Clinton with a speech at the Democratic National Convention. But his aides saw a new potential opening in 2020 for a person who made a mark as a technocratic, sometimes unexciting big city mayor. Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg's longtime political aide, told BuzzFeed News last fall that it is "about time we swing to boring with someone who can rise above the fray to chart a path forward toward greater national unity and mutual understanding.”
His fit in a Democratic primary would have been awkward: He was first elected as mayor of New York City in 2001 as a Republican, before leaving the party in 2007 and then winning a third term as an independent in 2009. He only registered as a Democrat last year, once he was already considering a presidential campaign.
Bloomberg addressed some of that criticism in his column Tuesday, writing that voters "want someone who levels with them, even when they disagree, and who is capable of offering practical, sensible, and ambitious ideas — and of solving problems and delivering results." He asserted that he would be able to beat Donald Trump in a general election, but that he is "clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field."
He also made a plea for a more moderate nominee to put up against Trump. "We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into 'Four More Years,'" he wrote.
Bloomberg, 76, is worth over $40 billion, putting him in a unique position to back Democratic causes ahead of next year's election. He has recently been one of the Democratic Party's most important boosters, spending millions on midterm races last year and becoming one of the country's dominant advocates for gun control and measures to slow climate change.
He wrote Tuesday that he will now launch a "Beyond Carbon" campaign, which he is calling a "grassroots effort to begin moving America as quickly as possible away from oil and gas and toward a 100 percent clean energy economy."
But he differentiated the campaign from a Green New Deal, which he wrote stands "no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years." Carl Pope, a Bloomberg adviser, told the New York Times that unlike the Green New Deal, this plan would be "speaking to climate," as opposed to "trying to do economic security as part of climate."
His decision not to run also should make things a little easier for his sprawling business. In an interview in December, Bloomberg suggested that if he ran for president, he'd consider selling his company or placing it in a blind trust. He also suggested that if he ran, maybe his company's news division just shouldn't cover politics. "Quite honestly, I don't want all the reporters I'm paying to write a bad story about me," he said through laughter. That uncertainty left reporters at the company a bit unnerved.