Michael Bloomberg may launch independent bid for president

The New York Times went live Saturday morning with a story that isn’t really a surprise to those closely follow politics, but that has the possibility of shaking up the presidential race.

Michael Bloomberg, the multibillionaire former mayor New York, has authorized his political team to actively pursue the launch of a Bloomberg presidential candidacy as an independent. Bloomberg is said to have authorized the expenditure of $1 billion for this. Bloomberg is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a net worth above $36 billion, so it’s easy to imagine that if he was in a position to credibly win the presidency, the funds to maximize such a possibility would be available.

Bloomberg has publicly speculated that he might launch a self-financed independent bid in some past presidential cycles, but has never done so. This would surely be his last shot. Bloomberg is 73 and will turn 74 next month. He is seven months younger than Bernie Sanders. Either of them, if elected in November, would be the oldest president at the time of assuming office, although Ronald Reagan was just shy of 78 when he finished his second term. The possibility that Bloomberg would take this, his last shot, in 2016 has been a murmur for many months among those of us who obsess on such things.

The Times said Bloomberg “has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.” The last independent to pull that off was billionaire Ross Perot, who appeared on all 50 state ballots in both 1992 and 1996, but didn’t carry any states. No third-party candidate has ever won the U.S. presidency.

When I said above that a Bloomberg candidacy could shake up the presidential race, I meant that even if he is not in a position to win, it’s easy to imagine — especially in the chaos of the current race — that he could attract enough votes in many states to affect the outcome. The Times suggests that the conventional wisdom is that Bloomberg would probably draw more support away from the Democratic nominee. But the story also suggested that the opposite could be true. I have no opinion on that at this stage, and, of course, it would likely depend on who the major parties nominate. Certainly Bloomberg would position himself as the moderate in the race, able to attract disaffected members of either party.

Bloomberg was a Democratic during his early years, switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor and was at least technically a Republican during his first two terms, although he was left of the national party mainstream on many issues. He stopped calling himself a Republican in his 2009 bid for a third term, but under New York’s strange system appeared on the ballot line of the Republican Party and also appeared as an independent.

It was during the 2008 presidential cycle that he openly flirted with the idea of launching an independent candidacy for president.

The Times story is based on sources who did not allow their names to be used, but I’m sure this is for real.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/23/2016 - 03:13 pm.

    Donald Trump said Saturday that his supporters are so loyal that he would not lose backers even if he were to shoot someone in the middle of downtown Manhattan.
    “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” Trump said at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa as the audience laughed. “It’s, like, incredible.”


    Not so sure that says he has much respect for his followers…

    Bloomberg–why not–probably one of the best years for an independent like Bloomberg.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/25/2016 - 03:35 pm.

      What Trump Said

      He’s probably correct, and that does show how he regards his supporters (with some justice, I might add). Of course, the shooting victim would have to be a person of the appropriate demographic, but the larger point remains.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 01/23/2016 - 04:24 pm.

    Jesse Ventura said it best about being an Independent

    Jesse said once “when you win as an Independent there is no one there to help you”. Trump, the go it along guy, would find the same thing if he ever gets there. He would be just like Jesse. Thin skinned and no one helping him. Being a businessman, who owns the company, is nothing like being the President. Everyone wouldn’t have to do what Trump tells them to do in congress and far less on the world stage. Bloomberg, as an Independent, would find it not as he envisions it would be.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/25/2016 - 01:14 pm.

    I think it’s really interesting…

    Universal health care, health care as a basic human right, and economic justice and fair distribution of a nations wealth, are classic classic post WWII liberal principles that have been been achieved with more or less success around the world. Yet, when Bernie Sanders proposes making those real objectives on the American political landscape… it’s the liberals who panic? We get a presidential candidate that is actually promoting a liberal agenda and its American liberals who push back even harder than the republicans.

    Think about that.

    This is why you can’t trust the democrats. We have one candidate who’s spent an adult career acting as a firewall against progressive liberal ideas (Clinton) and billionaire who want’s to jump into the race if a democrat who wants to do something about wealth concentration at the top gets the democratic nomination. None of this: “we’ll throw our weight behind whoever gets the nomination” like we’ve always seen before…. no, instead we get “liberals” who want act as spoilers so the republicans can defeat the democratic candidate. And people wonder why Bernie gets traction when he talks about the assault on the American middle class?

    There is absolutely nothing bizarre or unachievable about more equitable distributions of wealth or single payer health plans, yet our so called liberal intellectuals are lining up to denounce basic liberal principles as if they’re science fiction story lines…. again, think about that.

    I get the distinct feeling that these “liberals” aren’t panicking because their afraid Bernie will beat Hillary, they look like they’re panicking because they’re afraid Bernie might get into the White House… think about that.

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