June 19, 2007, 6:21 pm
HAT TIP: rikyrah, NY Times by Adam Nagourney
The announcement came after Mr. Bloomberg gave a speech denouncing partisan gridlock in Washington, stirring renewed speculation that he is preparing to run as an independent or third-party candidate in 2008.
“I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party,” he said in a statement issued while he was in California delivering political speeches. “Although my plans for the future haven t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.” The full text of his announcement is on the new City Room blog.
Mr. Bloomberg is a former Democrat who won the New York City mayoralty in 2001 running as Republican. The mayor, who cannot seek a third term, has said he had no plans to run for president, but has declined to shut the door completely on a White House bid.
“We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face,” he said.
“Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there s no limit to what we can do.’’
Mr. Bloomberg announced his decision after a campaign-style swing through California in which he gave a series of speeches that clearly previewed what aides have long said would be the thematic underpinnings of a Bloomberg presidential campaign, should he decide to run.
He presented himself as an antidote to partisan gridlock in Washington, suggesting that not withstanding his party affiliation, he had brought non-partisan government to New York.
“When you go to Washington these days, you can feel a sense of fear in the air, the fear to do anything or say anything that might affect the polls or give the other side the advantage or offend a special interest group,’’ Mr. Bloomberg said. “The federal government isn’t out front – it’s cowering in the back of the room.’’
Should Mr. Bloomberg end up not running for president or any other office, the announcement could become an interesting footnote to one of the more unusual mayoralties in a city that has produced a series of memorable mayors.
However, it was immediately viewed – by many of his prospective rivals – as presenting a major jolt to the presidential campaign. Mr. Bloomberg has a huge personal fortune and has never shown any reluctance to used it on advancing his career: He spent $150 million on his two bids for mayor. He would have no problem financing his own campaign.
What is more, Mr. Bloomberg has arguably at least as strong a claim on the prosperity that New York City has enjoyed as his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is seeking the Republican nomination. If Mr. Bloomberg decides to run as an independent or third-party candidate, he might find that he enjoys the benefits of New York City successes without the ideological burdens Mr. Giuliani has faced in trying to win the Republican nomination while being identified with such positions as supporting abortion, gay rights and gun control.
That said, several analysts have argued that a third-party candidacy by Mr. Bloomberg could be a problem for the Democratic Party. Until he ran for mayor, Mr. Bloomberg was a lifetime Democrat, and his success in New York reflected his ability to draw Democratic votes.
Should he enter the race, that would mean that there would be three major New York figures seeking the presidency this year.
Mr. Bloomberg’s trip to California came in a week when he was on the cover of Time Magazine and stood by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who like Mr. Bloomberg has proven successful in appealing for Democratic support, told a crowd of reporters that he should run for president.
Mr. Bloomberg, while in California, told an audience of Google employees that the country is “really in trouble” and used caustic language in describing what he said was timidity in Washington, contrasting that with his own approach to running New York City.
In his speech, he laid out what he said were the cornerstones of nonpartisan leadership – independence, honesty, common sense, innovation, teamwork and accountability. Mr. Bloomberg promoted his approach as mayor to issues like education, crime prevention and health care in putting those principals into practice.
“None of the initiatives we’ve undertaken are owned by the Republican or Democratic Party,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “They were built on the values of nonpartisan leadership, and they paid off.”
This is the biggest bombshell of the day and represents a significant milestone for the 2008 race. A Bloomberg candidacy changes everything for Hillary and seriously imperils her candidacy.
Bloomberg has serious appeal to independent voters and could tip the scales to the eventual GOP nominee.