Michael Bloomberg has garnered reams of press after having his name floated as a potential independent presidential candidate. Bloomberg, reportedly, is willing to spend $500 million on a presidential race. While money solves a lot of problems, it doesn’t do everything for the New York mayor. (With that said, it’s better to have $500 million, than not.) In my piece today in the New York Sun, I report on the myriad of practical difficulties that lie ahead of Bloomberg — despite the fact that he lacks what I call “the whiff of the weird” that usually accompanies third party candidates.
“Mr. Bloomberg’s favor has plenty of money to throw at this chore, but that’s only part of the problem. He must find competent individuals who are unaffiliated with either of the major parties and who can devote time, energy, and passion to him. Independent candidacies are often the refuge of the extreme activist, the fringe enthusiast, and the agitator.
“It’s organization, it’s organization, it’s organization,” the co-founder of the New York State Independence Party and an expert in ballot access around the country, Laureen Oliver, says. Ms. Oliver, who worked on the gubernatorial campaigns of Thomas Golisano in New York and Kinky Friedman in Texas, advised Mr. Bloomberg to hire a top national election attorney, who, in turn, could supervise 50 attorneys to navigate the labyrinthine set of state election laws.”
Michael Goldman, the senior consultant of the Government Insight Group and a former host on Bloomberg Radio, bemoans the potential impact of a Bloomberg candidacy on Democrats. (Goldman is supporting John Edwards.) “If he gets in, he badly hurts the Democrats,” Goldman tells Gitell.com. “The social conservatives never would support him.”
Goldman also makes another point about Bloomberg. Like Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut in 2004, Bloomberg would be a Jewish presidential candidate. While I think the series of issues surrounding the War on Terror complicates a Jewish candidacy, particularly one by a Jewish media mogul!, it is important to point out that there are big differences between Bloomberg, a secular Jew, and Lieberman, Sabbath-observant. I heard Benjamin Netanyahu, citing Mitt Romney’s status a Mormon, quoted on WTKK radio saying that America would welcome candidates of a variety of religious backgrounds. (Having the okay of the Israeli prime minister is probably as harmful as helpful these days.)
I’d say Bloomberg’s organizational difficulties far outweigh the reigious issues.