They Like Mike (Bloomberg)

“I have filed the papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party.”  Mayor Michael Bloomberg, June 19, 2007

Did anyone ever believe that Michael Bloomberg was a Republican?  I think not.  Registering as one six years ago was only a move that allowed him to pass through the primary process with no opposition rather than as a Democrat who had to fight for the nomination. It also allowed him to benefit from the renewed popularity of then-Mayor Rudy Guiliani.  Bloomberg’s ties with Wall Street in a post-9/11 New York City and his business skills made him a good fit.

Bloomberg has a good record as Mayor of New York.  The economy for workers and for tourists has come back strong.  Violent crime has been reduced, especially murder. He has begun to make some progress in taking back the public schools, but he hasn’t broken the teachers union, yet. Most people expected New York to be hit again by a terrorist in the years since 9/11 and we all know the city is still a big target.  All in all, he has been a successful mayor.

He took on the smoking “problem.” You can’t be a “good person” in America today if you don’t try to limit the opportunities for adults to smoke.  As a non-smoker, the thing I hate about Bloomberg’s smoking policy is I am exposed to more smoke in New York and every other “smoke free” city that has followed Bloomberg’s lead.  In the 25 or so years I have been traveling to New York for business, I have never encountered so many smokers in my life.  I never really noticed the smokers until they were huddled in every doorway smoking on the sidewalk.  The clouds of smoke I have to walk through to traverse the city today weren’t there when people were smoking in their offices.  Now I get to walk down the street and get a whiff of second-hand smoke about every 50 feet or so; thanks, Mayor Bloomberg.

Does his change in parties mean the presidential stars are lining up for Mayor Michael Bloomberg?  Maybe, but first we have to look at the man.  Frankly, he’s one of those guys with no need for a political party.  He’s a billionaire; a member of a very special club that will be sought out by whomever is in power because of their wide range of knowledge and ability to get things done. The are men like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump — wish I could think of some women — but they are just not out there at this time.

Politicos have a hard time understanding the majority of the population doesn’t live from one election to the next, so the allure of an independent candidate looks good from afar.  Mayor Bloomberg has the populist touch for a billionaire — he takes the subway and dispensed with a fancy office to work with the staff that reports to him in an open space in City Hall. He is the media darling of the moment.  The mainstream media is tired of Sen. John McCain.  Heck, I think Sen. McCain is tired of the media.  Sen. Barack Obama isn’t bringing the news media out like he did a couple of months ago, so Bloomberg is filling the gap.

On a side note, the New York papers are already salivating over a “Subway Series” of Clinton, Guiliani and Bloomberg for the general election — but with former "Law and Order" star and former Sen. Fred Thompson set to make his announcement to run for president the first week in July, New York may not get its “Subway Series” in November of 2008.

If Bloomberg enters the race, can he win?  That question is still up for grabs, but with the two major parties picking their nominee by mid-February, 2008 is the best chance for an independent candidate to win in American history. We still don’t know a lot about Michael Bloomberg, but if history is any indicator, if Mayor Bloomberg wants to be president, he’ll give the others in the race a run for their money — figuratively and literally.