Monday, March 5, 2007

Now It's Getting Interesting

There's been a lot of speculation that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg might enter the presidential race. Now Newsweek's Eleanor Clift is reporting that Bloomberg and Kevin Sheekey, his political adviser, are "meeting with pollsters and consultants to assess the mayor's chances as a third-party, independent candidate." Bloomberg is surprisingly popular, especially considering he took office shortly after 9/11 when outgoing mayor Rudy Giuliani's popularity was at its peak. What's more, by all accounts Bloomberg is an effective mayor who has made difficult decisions that have helped the city despite the potential damage to him politically. (Makes you wonder: is this guy for real?)

Six months ago, pollster Frank Lutz identified Bloomberg as the only viable candidate for an independent (or third-party) run for the presidency. Given that 81 percent of the electorate has indicated a willingness to vote for an independent candidate, Bloomberg could make an impressive showing and mess things up for the major parties in '08.

Here's what Jackie Salit had to say about a Bloomberg candidacy in the winter issue of The Neo-Independent:
The Bloomberg Revolution, as his 2005 reelection victory has come to be known, forged a new coalition of independents, reform-minded Republicans, non-sectarian Democrats, and black and Latino voters looking for a way out of their blank-check contract with the Democratic Party. An unprecedented 47% of black voters broke with the Democrats to back Bloomberg and 30% of Latinos joined them, even with a Latino, Fernando Ferrer, heading the Democratic ticket against Bloomberg.

Far from unifying or “transcending” the major parties, as current conventional wisdom suggests is the recipe for a viable independent presidential campaign, in the New York scenario Bloomberg took over the Republican Party...allied with the Independence Party, and split the Democratic Party. Projecting Bloomberg’s trans-partisan popularity into a possible independent presidential run requires an accurate reading of his new coalition—with a black and independent alliance at its core—and what it produced on the ground in New York City.
One thing's for sure: if Bloomberg announces, his candidacy will have a significant effect on how the 2008 presidential race is run—and on the way independent candidates are perceived.

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