The fact that Michael Bloomberg was first elected as a Republican is well-known. The fact that Bloomberg endorsed George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004 is generally known, although one wonders if the former mayor’s rivals will bring that up at Wednesday’s debate.
Many people believe Bloomberg registered as a Republican in 2001 because he felt getting elected as a Republican mayor in New York would be easier than winning the mayoral nomination of the Democratic party. That may be the case, but federal election donation records indicate that Bloomberg consistently gave generously to candidates of both parties, all the way up to 2018.
Way back in 1991, Bloomberg donated $1,000 to George Bush, back when there was only one man named “George Bush” in the headlines. Three years later, he donated to the Senate bid of Fred Thompson in Tennessee. The following year, he donated $1,000 to Lamar Alexander, who was gearing up for a presidential bid and would later become a senator from Tennessee. Bloomberg also donated $1,000 that year to another GOP presidential candidate, Steve Forbes. (Let’s face it, Forbes didn’t really need the money.) In 1997, Bloomberg donated $4,000 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee, $5,000 to the New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee, and $1,000 to Matt Fong, who was gearing up for a Senate campaign in California against Barbara Boxer.
Bloomberg donated to John McCain several times over the years, and hosted a fundraiser for McCain in January 2000, during the GOP primary against Bush. In 2003, Bloomberg wasn’t just a supporter of President Bush’s reelection, he was a donor, contributing $2,000. He donated the maximum $4,000 ($2,000 for the primary, $2,000 for the general) to McCain and Richard Shelby of Alabama.
In 2007, he donated $250 to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid — a figure that stands out as surprisingly small compared ot the other donations, and because of Bloomberg’s unique role as Giuliani’s successor. In 2010, Bloomberg gave $2,400 to Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana and $2,400 to Representative Michael Castle, who was preparing for a Senate bid in Delaware that year. In 2011, he donated $2,500 to Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and $2,500 to Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. In 2014, he donated $10,000 to the Republican Party of Massachusetts and another $5,200 to Susan Collins of Maine, who is one of the top targets of Democrats this cycle. In 2015, he contributed $2,700 to Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Democrats warming up to Bloomberg may dismiss all that as pre-Trump ancient history. But in 2016, Bloomberg contributed $2,700 to Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania and another $2,700 to McCain.
In fact, Bloomberg kept giving to a pair of Republicans in the Trump era. He hosted a fundraiser for Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, in June 2018 and also donated $5,400 to Representative Dan Donovan, another New York Republican, who lost his bid for reelection.
While Bloomberg announced he was leaving the Republican Party in 2007, he only announced that he had formally changed his party affiliation to Democrat on October 10, 2018.
Tomorrow night, one of his rivals may want to point out to Democratic primary voters that Bloomberg has been financing the opposition for many, many years.