When socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, a guy who wasn't a Democrat until recently and who attended his first Democratic National Convention just three years ago, won the popular vote in the first two Democrat contests of 2020, many in the Democrat Establishment began to seriously worry.


As polls reflecting Sanders staying power in Nevada and South Carolina and strong showings in big Super Tuesday states, they shifted to panic mode.


They realized that although Sanders has a passionate and energetic following, perhaps even large enough to propel him to the Democrat nomination, having him at the top of their ticket in 2020 would produce disastrous results.


They correctly believe that although free everything has an appeal to some, that the vast majority of Americans know who's going to pay for all of those schemes.


Telling millions of Americans that you're going to radically raise their tax burden is not a winning strategy. Most folks don't "feel that Bern."


Enter Mike Bloomberg, the flavor of the week for some earnestly looking for an alternative to Sanders' socialism.


After all, Bloomberg had actually run a major city and had hundreds of millions of dollars he was willing to invest in his presidential ambitions. That seemed pretty attractive to those searching for at least a port in the coming storm.


Bloomberg devised a strategy of spurning the early caucus and primary states and training his full efforts on the big ticket states of Super Tuesday. He stayed out of the Democratic debates and did almost no on the ground campaigning.


Instead Bloomberg relied on Madison Avenue advertising, putting together slick 30-second spots and buying up airtime for viewers to watch them in unprecedented magnitude.


Bloomberg invested $400 million bucks. That's astounding. Virtually all of it was his own money. He even ran ads in states like ours where the primary isn't until late April. He wanted to run up his national polling numbers and buying his way to that goal was the easiest and simplest path.


Bloomberg jump started his late entry campaign with all those bucks. He managed to get polling numbers high enough to place him near the front of the pack.


Unfortunately for Bloomberg, voters don't make their decisions based on slick 30-second commercials. They want more. They want to see the candidate speaking unscripted. They want to seem them unvarnished and out on the campaign trail pressing the flesh. They want a sense of what the candidate is really like, not what some advertising agency would like them to think they're like.


One of the best opportunities for them to get those things is on the debate stage. Mike Bloomberg hadn't qualified to appear on the debate stage with the other contenders for the Democrat nomination previously, so his debut this week was much anticipated.


Of course it took a rules change by the national Democrats for Bloomberg to qualify, but they managed to do that for him and give him his moment in the limelight.


It didn't take long for Mike Bloomberg to wish he'd remained waiting in the wings, buoyed and boosted by his television commercials.


Elizabeth Warren lit into him almost immediately. Bloomberg looked flat-footed and completely unprepared. Among the hundreds of high-paid staffers Bloomberg has hired, apparently none of them knew how to prepare him for the onslaught.


The rest of the evening was SNL parody stuff. The Democrat debate was more of a reality television show.


Bloomberg characterized Sanders proposals as communism. A few years ago Bernie told us he didn't mind being referred to as a communist; he's now changed his mind.


Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg let the world know that their differences are more than merely political. What was remarkable was the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, telling us that Denmark is the best place to live out The American Dream.


Denmark? That's country of less than six million people, not even half the population of our state. To the ex-mayor of a town of 100,000, 5.6 million proposals probably sounds like a lot, but with a GDP roughly the size of Wisconsin's, it's hardly the world's only superpower.


Oh, and the tax rate in Buttigieg's Utopia? It's higher than 60%. Tell the working American man or woman that they'll be shelling out more than half of their paycheck to the federal government and see how many flock to the polls to make that happen.


That's the biggest problem with the far left tilt of the 2020 Democrats. They simply can't-or won't-tell us how they're going to pay for all of their give always.


Many pundits, including several prominent Democrats, said the big winner of last week's debate was Donald J. Trump.


That's certainly not what Mike Bloomberg invested $400 million to hear.


Charlie Gerow is a Republican strategist and CEO of Quantum Communications. He and Democrat Mark Singel appear weekly on Face the State each Sunday morning at 8:30 on CBS-21. This column was originally published by The Patriot-News (Harrisburg) on Pennlive.com, and distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.