What do you do when you’re worth $11.4 billion, are the 34th richest man in the U.S., and 142nd in the World? You run for Mayor of New York, of course. But what do you do when your term is about to expire? Well, one man is still asking himself that after ruling himself out of the presidential election come November.
Mike Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, who was formerly a Republican, former a Democrat (in that order), who is now an independent, had been rumoured to run on a third-party ticket in the U.S. general election in November. It was expected that he would be an independent (rather than a Green, a Constitutionalist, or a Libertarian) on the ticket, and would campaign on the basis of bipartisanship, a centrist platform, and ‘unite the country’ would be his slogan. I’d say he is about 8 to 4 years too late on that one, considering the candidates who are most likely to represent the ‘big’ parties in the general election right now.
The rumours were quite well founded too. In as much as could be done without actually starting a campaign, all the groundwork was looked into, undertaken, and carried out. Bloomberg dispatched a huge polling and statistics team to find out how he rates across the country, what sort of money would be needed to campaign as an independent, and when action needed to be taken. Yesterday, I saw a report that claimed a ‘leak’ said that Bloomberg would have to start the process March 5, and that we should expect to see a decision any time soon.
Now, I think a lot of people were a bit unimpressed by this after Ralph Nader announced he is running in the November election as an independent. I didn’t blog about it when it was news because I didn’t want to draw attention to the guy, nor did I even want to acknowledge his existence. Him being in the race can only hurt the Democrats, as Nader runs on a very left platform.
Anyway, after Nader announced, people didn’t want to hear about ‘rumours’ from the Bloomberg camp. I listened to a few for one main reason. For a while, and my friends will testify to this, I’ve been saying that the election would be turned on its head if Bloomberg announced and entered the race. No one took me seriously because they didn’t taken him seriously. That’s why I listened to Bloomberg rumours – because I took the guy seriously, and I wanted to prove to my friends that Bloomberg was pretty serious too. Anyway, the rest of this post will be about that – proving the Bloomberg threat came very close to being an actual thing.
The Bloomberg campaign’s framework is actually established right now. He could change his mind tomorrow and be ready to race. There is, in every state, teams ready to go to start the bid. There was a draft pulled together stating how to get on each state’s ballot, and when the process had to be started by. It said that the start date for any Bloomberg campaign had to begin by March 5 to get on the Texas ballot. That state has one of the earliest deadlines for the third-party candidates.
Nation-wide polling had been conducted by hire polling companies just for Bloomberg. Every now and then, on the Internet, you would see polls that had Obama, McCain, and Bloomberg, or Clinton, McCain, and Bloomberg. I never reported on them because I don’t put much weight behind national polling this early in the game. But I was always intrigued why some polling companies had Bloomberg in their results, and why some did not.
And a detailed budget was handed to Bloomberg in recent days with a final minimum figure of what his campaign would cost. It said the price would probably be at $1 billion, but could creep as high as $1.5 billion. Because he would be a third-party candidate, he would need to invest a whole lot more in ads, staff, and rallies to get his name out there. That figure, for any party or person, would have been a scary one.
But none of that was what put Bloomberg off. It was that the two frontrunners for the parties, Barack Obama and John McCain, are both running on a centre/(left/right) platform. They are both espousing messages of unity and bipartisanship and bringing the country back together. There are some significant differences, but any sort of edge that Bloomberg might have had by campaigning for a centrist leader has been blunted.
Now, as much as I really want to see Barack Obama elected (and I really do), in an alternate universe where he won’t get the Democratic nomination, I would love to have seen John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Bloomberg going at it in the election. Heck, throw in Ralph Nader for a laugh too. The first time, since Ross Perot stood, in an election that an independent stood a chance. Actually, Mike Bloomberg, from what some of the stats were saying, stood a better chance at getting more votes that Perot did in 1992 – 18.9%. That would have really made things interesting for the election. And a hypothetical that I could write a whole post about. Which I may do another time.
But for now, sleep tight. Mike Bloomberg is not going to be in the presidential race.