- - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

What does it say about the Democratic presidential field of 18 (give or take) wannabes still vying for the party’s 2020 nomination when two more are only now jumping into the race, just days ahead of the fifth candidates’ debate on Wednesday night [Nov. 20] in Atlanta?

It’s not exactly an embarrassment of riches. It’s just rich in embarrassment.

First, let’s recap: Already, eight other hapless “hopefuls” — Reps. Eric Swalwell of California, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Tim Ryan of Ohio; former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke; Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state; former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio — have had the revolving door smack them in the posterior on the way out of the race.

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In the past 10 days, however, that same revolving door has ushered in Mr. de Blasio’s predecessor, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Both are fantasizing about riding to the rescue of the party, a (gender-neutral) damsel in political distress over the dim prospects of denying President Trump a second term next November. Implicit in Mr. Bloomberg’s and Mr. Patrick’s 11th-hour entries into the race is the premise that none of the current candidates has what it will take to pull that off. Party elders, strategists and big-dollar donors are increasingly fretful of a protracted battle for the nomination that could drag on well beyond the Super Tuesday primaries on March 3 and perhaps even into late spring or early summer.

With a scant 76 days remaining before the Iowa caucuses officially kick off the nomination process on Feb. 3, it will require political lightning striking for either Mr. Bloomberg or Mr. Patrick to break through. Mr. Bloomberg, a chameleonic Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, has two things going for him that Mr. Patrick doesn’t. That would be a personal net worth estimated at $52 billion and his willingness to spend whatever it takes, as he amply demonstrated in his three runs for mayor of the Big Apple. His campaigns in 2001, 2005 and 2009 spent a combined total of more than $261 million, according to The New York Times, and that was in just one city. Extrapolate from there what he might be willing to spend to run a nationwide campaign. But that’s a double-edged sword for Mr. Bloomberg, whose immense wealth earns him obloquy as one of the “1 percenters” so reviled by the party’s hard-left base.

Mr. Bloomberg is an anti-Second Amendment gun-grabber who spent millions on this month’s elections for the Virginia General Assembly in a successful bid to turn it blue. Theoretically, that should count for something among Democrats, but while it may set liberal hearts aflutter in Manhattan, New York, and Manhattan Beach, California, it won’t win him many friends or influence many people in what the left derisively dismisses as “flyover country” were he to be the nominee. Mr. Bloomberg is also the quintessential Nanny Stater, one whose disdain for sodas, salt and trans fats eminently qualifies him to be president — of the self-appointed food police.

Unlike Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Patrick’s campaign has no cash and virtually no staff, and by his own admission is “a Hail Mary from two stadiums over.” Mr. Patrick is attempting to positioning himself as a moderate alternative to the “nostalgia” for former Vice President Joe Biden and as a rebuke to what he called the “our way or no way” rigid leftist agenda of his fellow Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But Mr. Patrick carries what many on the left view as a scarlet letter: Since leaving office in 2015, and until recently, he was a managing director at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm co-founded by 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“I see Deval Patrick as nothing but a kamikaze candidate,” said Murshed Zaheed, a Democratic strategist who supports Ms. Warren, told Politico. “These folks have entered specifically in reaction to Warren’s ascendant candidacy.” A similar view is shared by others on the left, including supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, according to the Politico article, headlined tellingly: “The left smells a rat in Bloomberg, Patrick bids/Progressives charge latecomer candidacies are an attempt to crush an ascendant left wing.”

In the worst-case scenario, the race could go all the way to a brokered convention, where the nominee would be chosen in the proverbial smoke-filled room. That would leave the eventual winner (unless it’s Mr. Bloomberg) drained of cash, Democrats deeply divided and Mr. Trump in the catbird’s seat.

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