New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is changing his party affiliation from "Republican" to "unaffiliated", a move certain to fuel talk that he is preparing for an independent run for president in 2008.He's now gone Independent. People think that this signals his first step towards running for higher office - the Presidency - in 2008.
Is today's announcement the first step toward an independent Bloomberg bid for the White House? (AP photo)
"Although my plans for the future haven't changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our City," Bloomberg said in a statement released by his office late this afternoon.
Bloomberg went on to detail some of his accomplishments as mayor, from balancing the budget to reforming schools to making "the nation's safest city even safer."
This decision operates on several political levels.
On its face, it makes perfect sense. Bloomberg was never a Republican in any true sense of the word. When he first ran for office in 2001, he decided to do so as a Republican because the Democratic primary was already crowded with well-known candidates. The Republican nomination was his for the taking, and he took it. Then, in the general election he used his vast personal wealth and his pitch to bring a businessman's sensibility to the job to overcome the city's strong Democratic leanings. Now that he has been elected to two terms, Bloomberg has no need to remain in a party that he disagrees with on any number of issues.
I don't see it happening. We already have a bunch of candidates who talk like him, sound like him, and are pushing policies just like him.
They're called Democrats.
Of course the $1 billion or more that he could throw at the election is no small potatoes and could influence the outcome - splitting the vote sufficiently that we're talking about the winner in the 2008 general election garnering a plurality of the vote and not a majority. It happened when Perot ran in 1992 and 1996, and it could happen again. For an independent to have legs, they've got to be able to draw from both parties, and I just don't see Bloomberg being able to achieve that given his liberal tendencies.
Third party candidate have next to no chance of winning elections, but have the potential of becoming kingmakers down the road, though that didn't happen with Perot either. However, it does set up the possibility of a general election where Hillary, Rudy, and Bloomberg are all on the ballot.
That is a distinct possibility, as is the fact that they could spend a combined $1 billion on media buys in the NY metro area alone. Bloomberg is one of the most popular mayors in history, Hillary has been competent as Senator in bringing home the bacon, and Rudy is Rudy - the gold standard for NYC mayors. It would be a bloggers delight, that's for sure.
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