NEW YORK (Reuters) - Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put his name on Democratic primary ballots in Texas on Wednesday, paving the way for a possible late entry into the presidential race.
Bloomberg, 77, has not officially said whether he will run in the 2020 race, but has acknowledged considering a bid.
His would-be opponents in a historically large Democratic field have spent months making their case to voters in states, starting with Iowa and New Hampshire, that will start selecting the party’s nominee in February.
Bloomberg would bypass some of those earlier voting states and start campaigning in time for Super Tuesday, on March 3, when voters in 15 states and other regions select their nominee. Possible rivals would include former Vice President Joe Biden and senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Bloomberg had already registered to appear on the ballot in Alabama and Arkansas. Texas is the third, according to a filing with the Secretary of State in Austin.
At a forum organized by Bloomberg LP in Beijing on Thursday, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson hinted at the ex-mayor’s ambitions in explaining why he was not attending.
“My good friend Michael Bloomberg asked Henry Kissinger and me to represent him here today, because, as you all know, he’s made a decision to serve his country,” Paulson said at the opening of the high-profile two-day event.
Reuters reported last week that Bloomberg was originally set to appear at the gathering of world business leaders he launched in 2018 to promote cooperation with China.
A spokesman for Bloomberg LP declined to explain Bloomberg’s decision not to attend.
Bloomberg has been a vocal critic of Republican President Donald Trump and has publicly lobbied for an end to his trade war with China, saying it costs jobs, slows innovation and sours ties between the world’s top two economies.
If he were to run in the November 2020 U.S. presidential election, Bloomberg would position himself as a moderate with a track record of success who could challenge Trump’s business experience.
Forbes magazine ranks Bloomberg, who founded a media and financial information company named after himself, as the ninth-richest American, with an estimated net worth of $54.3 billion.
Bloomberg’s news organization came under scrutiny in 2013 after the New York Times said it had quashed investigative reports about wealth linked to the families of top Chinese officials. The Times cited sources that Bloomberg had self-censored, possibly to preserve its business in the country. Bloomberg denied the reports.
Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in Beijing; Editing by Richard Chang, John Ruwitch and Lincoln Feast.