Bloomberg Secretly Considers Independent Presidential Run

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is mulling over the idea of running for president as an independent, his local CBS affiliate says.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has always denied it, but CBS 2 has learned the details of a secret meeting, involving the mayor, to discuss a possible run for the White House. “I am not running for president, for the record,” Bloomberg has consistently said publicly.

But behind the scenes, it’s a different story. CBS 2 has learned the details of a private dinner for the mayor that was held at an apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side last month. There, he spent the evening in serious discussions about the viability of a White House run. Sources told CBS 2 Bloomberg brought three deputy mayors with him, and proceeded to talk through every angle of a presidential run. By the end, the group had zeroed in on his running as an independent in 2008. And, the sources said, he seemed intrigued.

The dinner was held at the home of Michael Steinhardt, a legendary Wall Street hedge fund manager and a Bloomberg friend. He brought along Al From, head of the Democratic Leadership Council, which played a part in Bill Clinton’s rise to power in 1992. Sources said the man who put Bloomberg together with Steinhardt and From was New York City Schools Commissioner Joel Klein.

Aides to the mayor cautioned that he is still very skeptical about the idea of running. In fact, one source said that at the dinner Bloomberg asked, “How likely is a 5’7″-Jew-from-New-York billionaire who’s divorced and running as an independent to become president of the United States.”

Not too bloody likely, actually. Indeed, if he ran it would make much more sense to do so as a Republican than as an Independent since the structure of our system makes it virtually impossible for an unaffiliated candidate to cobble together an Electoral College majority. And, in the case of a multi-candidate race with no majority, it’s unlikely the House of Representatives, which would have no members of Bloomberg’s non-party, would select him.

Most politicians who achieve any stature at all–and that includes Senators, governors, and NYC mayors–have presidential fantasies. Many even have meetings where advisors discuss the options. Few of them actually make the leap to run after weighing the odds.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The real question is not if he could win (he can’t as an independent), but if he would run. The dynamics of our presidential system seem to get the biggest jar from a third party candidate than anything else.

    What would be the impact of a Bloomberg (or for that matter anyone who could believably be linked to the republican party of being a conservative) third party candidacy? First, the third party candidate would provide a home for a sizable portion of the electorate who currently feel “the republicans deserve to lose, but the democrats don’t deserve to win”. This would likely be the greatest impact of such a candidacy. The real question would be if the democrats or the GOP would lose more. The Perot candidacy, along with the 1994 exit polling, showed that about 2/3 of his support came from the GOP column, with 1.3 from the democratic column (based on the party of the congressional candidates Perot voters supported in 1994). My best guess is that Bloomberg would likely hit similar numbers.

    Second, lets postulate that Bloomberg can have great success in New York and New Jersey, wining the states outright. This would take 46 electoral votes out of the equation (roughly 18% of what Kerry won in 2004). Even given other states being switched because of the above mentioned vote siphoning process, it would likely mean that neither party could directly win the election and it would devolve on the house to pick the president and the senate to pick the vice-president (just imagine the liberal eyes popping and jaws dropping if in 2000 it had worked out to be a Bush-Lieberman administration). Since the rule of thumb is the incumbent wins the next election, this raises the question of how many states have a majority of GOP or democrats. If its not 26 for either party, what happens next?

  2. floyd says:

    bloomberg’s name recognition is more regional than he thinks! he could vacation outside the northeast without fear of recognition![lol]

  3. Tano says:

    As an old New Yorker, it would be fun to see a three way Presidential race between Hillary, Rudy and Bloomberg!

  4. Tano,

    I’m from Texas and that three way match up made me smile. Of course Hillary could emphasize her carpet bagger roots outside of NY.

    One of the things I am a bit disappointed in Rudy is for his not running against Hillary. He could have made a race out of it, forced Hillary to spend some of her huge bags of cash and it would have sucked political oxygen out of the “democrats are going to be in the majority” meme. Even if he lost, if he put forward a good fight, he would have improved his position for ’08. On the other hand, running in NY with a chance to win, he would likely had to have taken some positions that would have made it harder for him to win the nomination in ’08.

  5. jpe says:

    He’s got zero credibility, but he’s been a solid mayor (spoken as a smoker, no less). And it’s so been refreshing to see a politician that will actually tell people they’re being stupid when they’re doing just that.

  6. Tano says:

    I am not surprised that Rudy hasn’t run for anything. He is on such an overblown pedastal, there is nowhere for him to go but down. Might as well make the one big run and hope that the going down doesnt cross below 50% before election day ’08.

    Most Americans don’t understand that his approval ratings on 9/10 were down in the twenties or so. And most Americans seem to think he was responsible for “cleaning up NY” even though the two big reasons were 1) the demographic trends that saw crime go down in every big city in the country and 2) the polcing reforms instituted in the latter half of his predecessors term, by Ray Kelley who is now, once again under Bloomie, the police commissioner.

    Rudy did a great job hand-holding the city after 9/11, and somehow, in peoples minds, that equates to being good at “fighting terrorism”. Go figga.

    I imagine that Bloomie will figure out pretty quickly that the independent route is not going to get him to the WH, for the reasons mentioned above. With Rudy in the GOP primaries, maybe Bloomie will try it as a Dem. He is a lifelong Dem anyway, and only has associated with the GOP for opportunistic reasons.

  7. Tano,

    The real threat is not that Bloomberg would win, it is that he could keep someone else from winning. Be that republican or democrat.