Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who would Bloomberg hurt?

By Edward Copeland

Sounding more and more like a potential 2008 presidential candidate each time he denies it, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken a step that no reasonable person could divine as anything other than the fact he's serious weighing that option. Today, the Republican mayor, who was a Democrat before he ran for mayor, changed his political affiliation to unaffiliated, portending a potential independent run.

In his statement, he said he would only run after he sees who the two parties pick as nominees next year and if he's certain that spending half a billion dollars of his personal fortune would make him the winner. Bloomberg said:

Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there's no limit to what we can do.

I've thought for a long time that 2008 seems to be a prime chance for a third party run with the front-loaded primary calendar which means that both parties probably will know their nominees by late February or early March, meaning that voters will be tired of hearing the same two people for nine months, no matter who the parties pick. Theoretically, we could have an unusual situation where if the Democrats do the stupid thing and nominated Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton and somehow Rudy Giuliani manages to land the GOP nomination and Bloomberg leaps in, it could be a three-way, all New York presidential race.

I have to admit: I've always enjoyed the idea that someday a third party candidate could actually win, just to scare the crap out of both parties. However, the decks are still so stacked against independent candidates, it would seem unlikely Bloomberg could pull it off. Who exactly would his appeal be to? It almost depends entirely on the nominees of the other parties. If Hillary is the nominees, people who can't bear to vote for a Republican after the 8 years of Dubyaland hell would have an option. If the Republicans pick a conservative, pro-Iraq war candidate, disaffected Republicans might cross over to vote for Bloomberg if they can't stomach voting for a Democrat. Only one thing is certain: Bloomberg won't be attracting disaffected religious right-wing voters, no matter who the GOP nominates.

From what I know about Bloomberg though, he is a practical man and he will only leap in if he truly believes he can win. Spoiler isn't a role he would pursue. We'll have to wait and see.

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