Bloomberg registers for 2020 presidential ballot in Arkansas

The former New York City mayor says he is yet to decide if he will contest the Democratic nomination

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg fills out paperwork, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., to appear on the ballot in Arkansas' March 3 presidential primary. Bloomberg hasn't formally announced a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, but his trip to Arkansas is the latest indication that he is leaning toward a run. (Staton Breidenthal/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)
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Michael Bloomberg filed paperwork on Tuesday to appear on the ballot in the presidential primary for the state of Arkansas on March 3. It is the latest indication that the billionaire may seek a Democratic nomination.

Mr Bloomberg sent staffers to Alabama last week to file for the primary there, but filed his paperwork in person in Arkansas, two hours before the state deadline.

"We're getting closer" to making a decision, Mr Bloomberg said after filing his paperwork.

The former New York City mayor is moving toward a presidential bid as he believes the current field of Democratic presidential candidates are not equipped to defeat President Donald Trump next year.

If he runs, Mr Bloomberg plans to skip campaigning in the traditional early voting states and focus more on so-called Super Tuesday states, such as Arkansas and Alabama, which are part of a diverse group of states holding presidential primaries in February or March of an election year and present a first true test for a presidential candidate.

Mr Bloomberg has rebuffed criticism from his potential rivals that his candidacy would amount to buying the election, saying self-financing his campaign means he would not be accountable to anyone.

“I’m going to finance the campaign, if there is one, with my own money so I don’t owe anybody anything,” he said.

“Other people ask for donations in return for which they’ve got to give favours. But it costs a lot of money, whether you’re doing it with your own money or somebody else’s money, to get a message out.”

Mr Bloomberg also promised to support whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

“That is a very easy thing to say yes, given who the Republican candidate is going to be,” he said.

Mr Bloomberg filed to run in a state that had once been a Democratic stronghold in the South, but turned solidly red over the past decade.

Republicans hold all of Arkansas’ seats in Washington, its state-wide offices and both chambers of the Legislature.

Officials this year moved the state’s primary up from May to attract more attention from presidential hopefuls.

Mr Bloomberg's appearance in Little Rock raised hopes from state Democrats that Arkansas will play a greater role in the nomination contest, especially with a crowded field.

"I think they realise when we start counting delegates, if this thing is jumbled up going into Super Tuesday, every state's in play," said state Democratic Party chairman, Michael Gray.