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Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to spend a reported $80 million to flip the House for Democrats

Tucker Higgins
Bloomberg advisor Howard Wolfson, a 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign aide and a former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is overseeing the effort.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday he is throwing his considerable support for Democratic candidates in hopes of winning back the House from Republican control in the midterm elections.

The billionaire, an independent, plans to spend as much as $80 million on the effort, according to The New York Times, which cited several of his advisors.

The party needs to win 23 seats in November to win control of the House.

"I've never thought that the public is well-served when one party is entirely out of power, and I think the past year and half has been evidence of that," Bloomberg said in a statement.

Bloomberg advisor Howard Wolfson, a 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign aide and a former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is overseeing the effort.

"We will make sure that voters in November remember which members of Congress allowed the President to separate children from their parents," Wolfson wrote in a post on Twitter Wednesday.

Wolfson could not immediately be reached for comment.

That staggering total would put Bloomberg in the very top echelons of political spending. No donor has contributed more than $30 million so far to outside groups in the 2018 cycle, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, a watchdog group.

In 2014, Bloomberg spent $28 million, according to OpenSecrets, with 95 percent of that sum going to Democrats.

"Republicans in Congress have had almost two years to prove they could govern responsibly. They failed," Bloomberg said.

He went on to say that Republicans have failed to "reach across the aisle to craft bipartisan solutions," citing guns, climate change, jobs, immigration, health care and infrastructure.

The 76-year-old Bloomberg has at times been a member of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and has been discussed as a possible candidate for president. He has been an opponent of President Donald Trump and addressed the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Bloomberg's full statement.

I've never much liked political parties. I've always believed that we should put country before party. Too many politicians practice the reverse, with terrible consequences for the American people.

But although I don't believe in partisanship, I very much believe in the importance of politics and elections. That's how we make change and progress in a democracy.

Over the years, I have supported candidates in both parties who were willing to break with partisanship and the special interests and seek common ground around solutions to make America better. I've focused my philanthropy partly around bipartisan gun safety, environmental and immigration reform measures, and my political giving has been focused around those priorities as well.

In the last election, for example, I spent nearly ten million dollars to help a Republican, Pat Toomey, get re-elected in Pennsylvania. I disagree with him on many issues. But after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, he broke with the NRA and co-wrote a bipartisan bill to close the background check loophole.

At the same time, I spent roughly the same amount to help successfully elect a Democrat in New Hampshire – Maggie Hassan – who was running to defeat a Republican incumbent who had voted against Toomey's bill.

This year, I'm supporting both Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates who have shown strong leadership on gun safety, the environment, education, and other critical issues facing the country.

It's unusual to support candidates of both parties in a robust way, but that approach has reflected my belief that democracy and government work best when people from both parties work together. There are good people in both parties, and neither has a monopoly on good ideas.

I've never thought that the public is well-served when one party is entirely out of power, and I think the past year and half has been evidence of that.

Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, have done little to reach across the aisle to craft bipartisan solutions – not only on guns and climate change, but also on jobs, immigration, health care, and infrastructure. As a result, Congress has accomplished very little.

In addition, and no less troubling, Congress has essentially stopped acting as a co-equal branch of government, by failing to engage in the kind of oversight of the law that the Constitution requires and the public expects.

In fairness, some Republicans have taken their constitutional and legislative responsibilities seriously, like my friend John McCain. But too many have been absolutely feckless, including – most disappointingly – the House leadership.

Republicans in Congress have had almost two years to prove they could govern responsibly. They failed. As we approach the 2018 midterms, it's critical that we elect people who will lead in ways that this Congress won't – both by seeking to legislate in a bipartisan way, and by upholding the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers set up to safeguard ethics, prevent the abuse of power, and preserve the rule of law.

And so this fall, I'm going to support Democrats in their efforts to win control of the House.

To be clear: I have plenty of disagreements with some Democrats, especially those who seek to make this election about impeachment. Nothing could be more irresponsible. But I believe that 'We the People' cannot afford to elect another Congress that lacks the courage to reach across the aisle and the independence to assert its constitutional authority. And so I will support Democratic candidates who are committed to doing both.