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"H. Ross Perot on Steroids":

The Washington Times reports on New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's preparations for a potential independent White House run:

The mayor has told close associates he will make a third-party run if he thinks he can influence the national debate and has said he will spend up to $1 billion. Earlier, he told friends he would make a run only if he thought he could win a plurality in a three-way race and would spend $500 million -- or less than 10 percent of his personal fortune.

A $1 billion campaign budget would wipe out many of the common obstacles faced by third-party candidates seeking the White House.

"Bloomberg is H. Ross Perot on steroids," said former Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner. "He could turn the political landscape of this election upside down, spend as much money as he wanted and proceed directly to the general election. He would have resources to hire an army of petition-gatherers in those states where thousands of petitions are required to qualify a third-party presidential candidate to be on the ballot."

Steve:
Bloomberg is an effective mayor, but it's hard to imagine him having more of an impact than Perot.
5.15.2007 3:47pm
Ramza:
Ross Perot has a net worth of $4.3 billion according to Forbes, 57th richest person in America.

This is in 2006. What was his 1992 wealth? How much did he spend for his 1992 and 1996 campaigns?

Their wealths seem comparable, wouldn't it then be more of how much they are willing to spend, and the amount of people they can grab from each party that makes them a better third party candidate?
5.15.2007 3:48pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
I can't envision a scenario in which the effect of a third party Bloomburg run is other than guaranteeing the Democratic get the Presidency in 2008.
5.15.2007 4:07pm
matty g:


I can't envision a scenario in which the effect of a third party Bloomburg run is other than guaranteeing the Democratic get the Presidency in 2008.



Probably correct, although any *serious* Bloomberg candidacy might conceivably win New York, which would certainly be a major blow to the Dems. There's an opening in upstate NY politics right now for a liberal-libertarianish candidate, and Bloomberg has proven his ability to win in the city.
5.15.2007 4:13pm
KeithK (mail):

I can't envision a scenario in which the effect of a third party Bloomburg run is other than guaranteeing the Democratic get the Presidency in 2008.


That view assumes that Bloomberg takes votes away from the Republican candidate more than the Democrat. But even though he is nominally a Republican it's a stretch to consider Mayor Mike in anyway representative of the right. He is basically a liberal Democrat who saw an opportunity to run as a Republican because of a crowded D field in NYC. He suffers from all of Guiliani's liabilities with the right plus more.
5.15.2007 4:14pm
Bretzky (mail):
The big difference between Perot and Bloomberg is not the amount they have or are willing to spend on a campaign; it's that Bloomberg has proven he can be an effective politician and elected official. In other words, Perot was a moonbat and Bloomberg isn't.

However, I don't think just being a rich guy is enough to get you elected as a third party presidential candidate. You have to have a national following not associated with politics (e.g. a military hero, a really famous businessman, a beloved former athlete, etc.) Bloomberg is far too gray and unknown outside of the New York area and financial business community to pry away more than 20% of the vote.

Also, he's too liberal for most Republicans and the Democrats have no need for an alternative candidate. And, while I disagree with most of Karl Rove's electoral strategies, one thing he is definitely right about is that well over 70% of self-identified independents are not really independents at all, they just like to think of themselves as such while pulling the lever for the same party time and time again.
5.15.2007 4:14pm
Jeff R.:
A very strange article, to claim that Jon Anderson's run affected the outcome of 1980.

I was not aware that Bloomburg has taken the anti-immigration, anti-free-trade positions that ignited the core of Perot's 'radical center'. If he hasn't, then he will be another Anderson rather than another Perot. (If, of course, he actually runs at all.)
5.15.2007 4:15pm
SP:
I am confused. Do you really think that any *actual* Republicans will vote for Bloomberg?
5.15.2007 4:15pm
matty g:


I am confused. Do you really think that any *actual* Republicans will vote for Bloomberg?



Definitely the upstate NY secular fiscal conservatives. Nothing has moved them away from the GOP faster than the politicization of religion in the last 15 years. Unlike, say, the small towns in Pennsylvania, the small towns in NY have a very secular streak to them. And they are all GOP or former GOP who vote republican locally and increasingly DEm in national elections over the past 12 years.
5.15.2007 4:19pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Were I a Democrat with cash to burn, I'd donate to both the eventual Dem nominee and Bloomberg. Were I a Republican (which I am) I would learn the lessons of 1992 and never vote for a 3rd party candidate.
5.15.2007 4:21pm
Steve:
There's an opening in upstate NY politics right now for a liberal-libertarianish candidate, and Bloomberg has proven his ability to win in the city.

But Bloomberg is a very unlibertarian liberal. In fact, I'd like to see anyone be a successful big-city mayor as a libertarian.

Bloomberg would probably get a lot of votes in the Northeast from what used to be the Rockefeller Republican crowd. In terms of who wins and who loses, I'm not sure this would make any difference other than ensuring that New Hampshire goes for the Democrats.

It's hard to see Bloomberg having much currency in other parts of the country, particularly pro-gun regions like the South and Mountain West.
5.15.2007 4:26pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
I can't envision a scenario in which the effect of a third party Bloomburg run is other than guaranteeing the Democratic get the Presidency in 2008.


I dunno. A Bloomberg candidacy would certainly galvanize the people who take a strong pro-2nd Amendment stance. I doubt even Obama could get those folks pulling the lever for a Mitt Romney, the way Nurse Bloomberg could. He's been poking that bear for a long time and he is not a beloved figure among 'merkins. He's only nominally Republican so it's a tough call to guess from whom he'd siphon more votes.

I think George Pataki would have a better chance of actually winning coming away with a tiny shred of his dignity intact, though. Plain vanilla beats curdled milk every time.
5.15.2007 4:34pm
KeithK (mail):

It's hard to see Bloomberg having much currency in other parts of the country, particularly pro-gun regions like the South and Mountain West.


It would be trivially easy for conservative groups to demonize Bloomberg for his active anti-gun activities. They're well documented and some (out of state sting operations) were arguably illegal.

The only way I can see this issue not being exploitable is if Giuliani manages to win the R nomination. But then I also find it hard to believe that Bloomberg could win votes from Giuliani anyway.
5.15.2007 4:36pm
Andrew Okun:
Speaking as a wounded Democrat, I can tell it he doesn't have to get very many votes to bugger up someone's day, and I'd tend to think it would wind up being the Republican's day that got done.

I think third party candidacy's are daft. They do have an impact on the more affected party, usually the party closer in thinking to the candidate, but that impact is outweighed hugely by the damage done to that party.

Bloomberg should run as an unapologetic Rockefeller Republican, the old-fashioned kind with a liberal-libertarian bent, in the Republican primaries. He'd add to the discourse and represent a wing of the party that has been in hiding for some years now. Then the party can decide what it wants and he, in all probability, bows out for the runoff. That's what he should do as a Republican.

Of course, if he goes indy and naderizes some poor GOPer, I can't say I'd lose a lot of sleep about it.
5.15.2007 5:04pm
Andrew Okun:
I need to slow down and edit. "candidacies" surely.
5.15.2007 5:06pm
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
I'm an upstate NY liberal, I don't dislike Bloomberg and I believe he could attract some Rockefeller Republican and/or libertarian liberals in the Northeast. But its still hard for me to imagine Giuliani winning New York's electoral votes, let alone Bloomberg. And if they're both in the race, New York is a lock for the Democratic candidate.

I know Bloomberg is a liberal and mostly a Republican in name only. But most people don't vote for third party candidates because they like their substantive policy positions. They vote for third party candidates when they're dissatisfied with their own party's candidate. So, I think Bloomberg is a lot more likely to attract Republican votes since, whoever gets the nomination, a large swath of the party is likely to be unethusiastic. The Democrats on the other hand seem to be fairly satisfied with their candidates (or at least that's the oft-repeated conventional wisdom) and probably are not going to be inspired enough by Bloomberg (or VP Hagel or whoever) to switch away from Clinton/Gore/Obama/Edwards.
5.15.2007 5:18pm
John Herbison (mail):
A third party candidate need not fare especially well in order to affect the outcome of the election. But for Ralph Nader's gargantuan ego, there would never have been a George W. Doofus presidency.
5.15.2007 5:24pm
Wes Johnson:
What kind of retardo logic allows Bloomberg to spend a bajillion dollars on his campaign but limits how much we can spend to oppose him?
5.15.2007 5:34pm
ed o:
why wouldn't he siphon the semi-liberals who would otherwise vote for Obama or Hillary? HRP appealed to the constituency the republicans were seeking-do you think the republicans are placing their hopes on the Upper West Side trans fat busters? if Bloomberg wins NY, how does that help the Democrats?
5.15.2007 5:36pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Winning one large state (say, New York) could be enough to throw the election to the House.
Currently, that's 27 votes Dem, 21 votes Rep, 2 states evenly split. However, many of the Democrats' most vulnerable seats are in states where the change of 1 seat would swing that state's balance of power (e.g., Shea-Porter in NH, Boyda in KS, Loebsack in IA, Hill in IN, Bean in IL). A change of just those seats could give the GOP the majority of states in the new House, even if the GOP lost more seats in states where it didn't make a difference (e.g., Shays in CT, Gerlach in PA).

I also think people are underestimating the impact that Bloomberg could have (a billion dollars would enable him to out-advertise the GOP and Dem candidates combined), especially if his running mate was a prominent person in his own right - possibly a tech billionaire (CA Ins. Comm'r Steve Poizner comes to mind if he wants one with political experience).

Nick
5.15.2007 6:04pm
nrein1 (mail):
No matter how much money he spends, I don't see Bloomberg having the same impact Perot had. In 1992 (and 2000 for that matter) there was a sense, Democrat Republican it doesn't matter, I'll vote for a 3rd part candidate. The last 6 years have convinced a lot of people that there is a large difference between the two parties, and I don't think there are that many people out there willing to throw their support behind a third party candidate unless he had a very good chance of winning.
5.15.2007 6:17pm
Brett Bellmore:

He's only nominally Republican so it's a tough call to guess from whom he'd siphon more votes.


Isn't the question who he'd want to siphon more votes from? He could run his campaign to hurt the Democrats, or hurt the Republicans, (Though the latter would be easier.) depending on which outcome he wants. Assuming he's consciously planning to play king maker.

What I can't see is him actually winning. I wonder if he's arrogant enough to think he can?
5.15.2007 6:29pm
chris c:
Perot spoke to a pressing issue of that moment - the deficit and related concerns. as I recall he had barnstormed the country for a while on the topic before jumping in.

what's Bloomberg's issue - no smoking in public? no one is going to crash the barricades over that.
5.15.2007 6:42pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Isn't the question who he'd want to siphon more votes from? He could run his campaign to hurt the Democrats, or hurt the Republicans, (Though the latter would be easier.) depending on which outcome he wants. Assuming he's consciously planning to play king maker.


Fair point, but I think it is still a crapshoot. If he sets out to hurt the Republicans, he could end up helping them (and vice versa). After spending $1 billion in campaign monies, I doubt there would be a single American voter left unannoyed by Mayor Mike. I think Bloomberg's popularity is at its highest when he stays out of sight. Stupid gun control regs and "Mommy knows best" intrusions into personal choices aside, he's not a bad CEO for NYC. It would cost him most of that billion just to buy my vote, though.

I'm still wondering how anyone can use the word "libertarian" in the same sentence as "Mike Bloomberg". "Pest" maybe......
5.15.2007 7:26pm
William Swann (www):
Suppose for a moment that Bloomberg takes the un-Perot approach. That is, the finds a credible running mate (perhaps Chuck Hagel, with his foreign policy experience), and he doesn't move in and out of the race the way Perot did.

The basic appeal of a ticket like that may be pretty significant. You have a successful businessman who also has political experience in a significant executive role as mayor of NY. And you have a VP candidate with widely-regarded foreign policy expertise and a guy with passion for managing the Iraq crisis (and who's views on Iraq run roughly parallel to public opinion).

Finally, you have enough money to compete with the two major party tickets.

If it were a Bloomberg-Hagel ticket, the presence of two Republicans would tend to draw some Republican support -- likely the Republicans who are uneasy about the war (of which there are many). It may draw more Democrats (or Democrat-leaning independents) because of Bloomberg's liberal views and Hagel's status as a maverick (even if a relatively conservative maverick).

Consider, too, the possibility that Giuliani will win the Republican nomination. That would place all three tickets in the pro-choice camp, and would likely lead to another independent candidacy from some social conservative.

Could Bloomberg-Hagel win in a four-way contest? Maybe.
5.16.2007 12:45pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
One has to look at it on a regional or state by state basis to judge the impact.

The GOP has the South and the non-coastal West locked up. Can Bloomberg take votes away from the GOP candidate in these states? Highly doubtful. His gun crusade will not play well. So, the 200 or so electoral votes here in my opinion stay GOP.

The Dems have the West Coast, New England and Atlantic states locked up. Does Bloomberg potentially attract votes in New Jersey or California or New York. I say yes, and these votes would come from likely Dem voters. So, if Rudy was the nominee, Bloomberg could take enough votes away in NY or NJ so Rudy sneaks a win in one of these states with say 43% of the vote. If it is McCain, then the same might happen in California. If California or NY goes GOP, then the election is over.

I say Bloomberg's impact is more a risk for the Dems than the GOP.
5.16.2007 2:47pm
markm (mail):

(link)chris c:
Perot spoke to a pressing issue of that moment - the deficit and related concerns. as I recall he had barnstormed the country for a while on the topic before jumping in.

what's Bloomberg's issue - no smoking in public? no one is going to crash the barricades over that.

It's the use of illegal tactics to harass gun dealers far outside of his jurisdiction. Oh wait, that's his prospective opponents' issue. In this election, he makes Obama &Hilary look moderate on guns. Then there's the whole nanny-state thing, cigarette taxes so high drug smugglers are switching to cigarette-running, etc. It would be a remarkable achievement for the Republican party to find a candidate that loses any conservative and libertarian votes to Bloomberg. (Although the party that nominated Dubya out of all their possible choices just might be capable of it...)

But this time the Republican field is free of drunken bums who could inherit overwhelming support, so I think the real issue will be if Bloomberg can gather enough Democratic votes to matter.
5.16.2007 5:06pm