Now Bloomberg’s Thinking About Running?
Ronald L. Feinman is the author of Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015).
The report of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002-2014) considering a possible Independent run for the White House in 2016, if it transpires, will totally upset all prognostications for what could be the most tumultuous Presidential election in modern history!
Ordinarily, history tells us that a third party or independent candidacy for the Presidency is a waste of time, as no third party or independent has ever won the White House. The closest such race only garnered former President Theodore Roosevelt a total of six states, 27.4 percent of the total popular vote, and 88 electoral votes, when he ran on the Progressive (Bull Moose) party line in 1912, ending up second, instead of third, beating out Republican President William Howard Taft.
The second and third best electoral vote totals were gained by Southern segregationists George C. Wallace (46 in 1968), and J. Strom Thurmond (39 in 1948) , with them gaining only Southern regional support, five states for Wallace and four states for Thurmond. So therefore, it would seem a waste of time to dwell on the effects of a Bloomberg candidacy, but that would be at the detriment of the major party candidates and the political pundits.
Bloomberg is the seventh wealthiest billionaire in America, and 13th wealthiest in the world, based on 2015 statistics, and leaves Donald Trump, a fellow billionaire, in the dust. If Trump could support his own campaign with his wealth, most certainly Bloomberg, worth at the least four times more and probably more than that, would have no issue with doing the same, with estimates that he would be willing to spend one billion dollars of his own fortune.
Bloomberg was, by most estimates, a very successful three term Mayor of the largest American city, arguably the most difficult job in America after the Presidency itself. He was a Democrat, who became a Republican, and then an Independent during his time in office, and really can float back and forth between the parties in his appeal, making his fortune and his willingness to spend it a real danger to the two party system of candidates.
Bloomberg would make it a three way race of New Yorkers, if he ran alongside Trump and Hillary Clinton, a startling development never imagined to happen again, that New York would be such a total center of the political universe, in a nation dominated by the Sun Belt growth since World War II. New York is still the fourth largest state after California, Texas, and Florida, and is still the center of the financial, media, and much of the entertainment world, and the impact of an all New York race would be massive.
Another interesting scenario of this race would be that fact that were, somehow, Bernie Sanders to defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination, we would have three candidates who grew up in New York (although Sanders moved away in 1968 after growing up in Brooklyn); and two of them (Bloomberg and Sanders) are reform Jews, making them the first two Jewish Presidential candidates, although Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (an Orthodox Jew) was Al Gore’s Vice Presidential running mate in the 2000 presidential election.
The word is that Bloomberg will make a decision on a Presidential run in March, after he sees how well Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders do in the early primaries and caucuses, as it is said he is alarmed by either doing well, and is not all that happy about Hillary Clinton, although if she does well, he might decide not to enter the race. March is a deadline in many states for being able to end up on the ballot in the fall, and Bloomberg would need to make a decision promptly during that month.
With Bloomberg’s strongly progressive views on gay rights, abortion, gun control, immigration reform, and climate change, he could play a major factor in the race, and no one now could possibly predict his impact on the Electoral College, particularly in “Blue” New York, but also in many other states. It is not beyond imagination that he could, conceivably, do what TR hoped to do in 1912, win the Presidency of the United States with high 30s or low 40s percentage of the total national popular vote. So the next nine and a half months will not lack in drama or surprises!