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Bloomberg likely to decide on 2020 bid by early next year

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New York, Nov 14 (AP) - Having spent a fortune to help elect Democrats this fall, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party and outlined an aggressive timeline for deciding whether to run for president.
"I think January, February would be about as late as you can do it and as early as you can gather enough infor-mation," Bloomberg told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
The 76-year-old billionaire said his decision would have little to do with other Democratic presidential pros-pects. He conceded that "it's much too early to tell" whether he has a legitimate chance of winning the Demo-cratic presidential nomination in 2020 and, with it, the chance to take on another New York billionaire, Presi-dent Donald Trump.
"Thanksgiving, Christmas and then maybe a few weeks into January - that's when you really gotta sit down, talk to your advisers and say, 'Look, do I have a chance?' I think I know why I would want to run. I think I know what I think this country should do and what I would do. But I just don't know whether it's possible," Bloomberg told the AP.
He added, "If people don't seem to be warming to you, there's plenty of other ways that I can make a difference in life and say thank you to this country for what it's given my kids and me."
Should he run, Bloomberg would bring virtually limitless resources and a pragmatic governing approach to what is expected to be a massive 2020 Democratic field. Hardly a far-left liberal, he is described by his team as socially progressive and business-minded. He has spent tens of millions of dollars to promote liberal priorities on climate change, gun control and immigration.
It's unclear, however, whether there's room for Bloomberg in today's Democratic Party.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, offered a lukewarm assessment this week when asked about Bloomberg's $110 million investment in his party's 2018 midterm efforts.
"I applaud everybody who was involved," Perez said in an interview. "Very appreciative of Mayor Bloomberg. Equally appreciative of those grassroots activists who were knocking on doors every weekend, texting people, investing 50 bucks in the Democratic Party."
Still, Bloomberg endeared himself to many Democratic leaders in recent months after deciding to invest more than $110 million in the 2018 midterms - largely focused on House races. Long an active political donor to candidates in both parties, Bloomberg gave almost exclusively to Democrats this year for the first time.
The decision, he explained, was born out of his concern that Republicans who controlled the House and Senate weren't providing an adequate check on the Trump presidency. Yet this political season marked a permanent shift in his political identity, he said.
"I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life," Bloomberg said.
Democratic officials poised to play leading roles in the next presidential election took notice of Bloomberg's investment.
Guy Cecil, chairman of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, described Bloomberg's midterm effort as "incredibly helpful." It's unclear, however, whether Democratic voters who might favor younger, more liberal candidates in 2020 will see him any differently.
"Democrats appreciate how much he has invested and how much his team has been engaged in the cycle, but ultimately it's going to be about what Bloomberg's vision is for the future," Cecil said.
Bloomberg acknowledged he has already formulated his justification for a presidential bid, but he declined to share it when asked. Still, he offered a message to any critics who might not think he belongs in today's Demo-cratic Party.
"I don't think anybody has done more on the environment, on gun safety, on immigration, go right down the list," Bloomberg said. "I was the one who stood up for gay marriage long before it became popular. I was the one at the national convention who said Trump was a con man. If you find anybody that's done more on these issues than I have, and the people that I've been lucky enough to work with, please give me a call. I'd like to hire 'em."