Michael Bloomberg moved forward Friday with plans to enter the 2020 presidential race, filing papers to become a candidate in the Alabama Democratic primary and further disrupting the race by embracing a risky campaign strategy that would involve bypassing early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
Mr. Bloomberg qualified for the Alabama primary Friday afternoon, according to the Alabama Democratic Party. The Deep South state has the earliest deadline in the country, Nov. 8, for candidates to qualify for the primary ballot, effectively forcing Mr. Bloomberg to put his name into contention this week if he did not want to get shut out of the ballot.
While Mr. Bloomberg has not made a final decision to run, his allies say he intends to enter the race and his early moves have rippled through the Democratic field. It has raised alarm among supporters of former vice-president Joe Biden, who is the leading centrist in the race, and prompted accusations from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders that Mr. Bloomberg is going to try to buy the presidency with his personal wealth.
Mr. Bloomberg has decided that if he seeks the Democratic nomination, he would stake his candidacy on big, delegate-rich states such as California and Texas, which vote somewhat later in the calendar, rather than trying to catch up with his rivals in the circuit of traditional early states.
Should Mr. Bloomberg proceed with such a campaign, he would be attempting to take a high-risk route to the Democratic nomination unprecedented in modern presidential politics – one that shuns the town-hall meetings and door-to-door campaigning that characterizes states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and relies instead on a sustained and costly campaign of paid advertising and canvassing on a grand scale.
Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, cited the other candidates’ head start in a statement confirming Mr. Bloomberg intended to mount his campaign from the outset in an unconventional array of states.
The plan to skip campaigning in early-voting states drew a negative reaction Friday night from the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Ray Buckley.
“We are disappointed and frankly very surprised that any candidate would launch a campaign for the White House where their path doesn’t run through New Hampshire or any of the other early states,” Mr. Buckley said.
Mr. Bloomberg, 77, was elected mayor of New York City as a Republican and became a Democrat only last year.
Mr. Bloomberg has seriously explored running for president at least three times but in every case he opted against mounting a campaign.