Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting ready for a run? (Wasn't Chuck Hegel maybe gonna be his VP?)

Bloomberg quits Republican party

James Orr and agencies
Wednesday June 20, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg: 'Good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology.' Photograph: Brad Barket/Getty Images

The New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is dropping his affiliation with the Republican party, sparking widespread speculation that he intends to run for president.

The billionaire businessman, 65, declared his decision on a campaign-style sweep through California, during which he criticised both parties in Washington for being too timid.

The former Democrat, who switched to the Republicans for his first mayoral run, said that becoming an independent would allow him greater flexibility in decision-making.

But he denied that the move cleared the way for his plans to join the campaign race to succeed George Bush in the 2008 elections.

"I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead my city," Bloomberg 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."

The mayor's switch has led many commentators to suggest he will now pursue an independent White House campaign, challenging the Democratic and Republican nominees with a legitimate and well-financed third-party bid.

Experts estimate Mr Bloomberg has amassed a fortune of more than $5bn (£2.5bn) from his media empire and could easily underwrite a presidential run, much like the Texas businessman Ross Perot attempted in 1992.

He is already known to have spent more than $155m on his two mayoral campaigns, including $85m when he won his second term in 2005.

Over the past 18 months, Mr Bloomberg visited 20 cities, fuelling rumours of a possible presidential campaign.

Recent speeches have also focused on national issues and he has repeatedly criticised the partisan politics that dominate Washington.

"The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses have paralysed decision-making, primarily at the federal level, and the big issues of the day are not being addressed, leaving our future in jeopardy," he said on Monday at a University of Southern California conference.

The mayor's entry into a presidential campaign would undoubtedly inflame the already volatile, wide open race to succeed Mr Bush.

Greg Strimple, a Republican strategist in New York who is unaligned in the race, said: "If he runs, this guarantees a Republican will be the next president of the United States. The Democrats have to be shaking in their boots."

Since becoming mayor in 2002, Bloomberg has often been at odds with his party and Mr Bush. He supports gay marriage, abortion rights, gun control and stem cell research, and raised property taxes to help solve a fiscal crisis after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.

His entry into the campaign would give the presidential contest a decidedly New York flavour, with Hillary Clinton, the New York senator on the Democratic side, and the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani among the Republican contenders.

Original article posted here.

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