Rumors Surround Bloomberg Presidential Bid

This story was written by Seo Hee Im, Columbia Daily Spectator
Mayor Michael Bloomberg lives a life of epic proportions-he won the fight for control of City Hall, his company, Bloomberg L.P., devoured a third of the international financial media market, and his name has been inscribed in structures built with his philanthropic might. Yet rumors surrounding Bloomberg's potential presidential candidacy keep many wondering whether he's pushing for power or just riding the wave of media attention.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll revealed that most New York City voters expect Bloomberg to join the race. Many of his speeches have touched on nation-wide dilemmas rather than simply local ones, and his decision to leave the Republican party to become an Independent attracted a swarm of attention from news channels this past summer. His seventh State of the City Address, delivered earlier this month, left crowds and political analysts buzzing about a possible presidential run.

In the address, Bloomberg emphasized the importance of diversity and immigration in America, along with his accomplishments as the Mayor of New York. The speech "had all the trappings of a campaign speech," according to WNYC New York Public Radio's Bob Hennelly.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg fans across the country have tried to push the Mayor to join the presidential race. Former White House Communications Director for the Carter Administration Gerald Rafshoon and former Republican consultant Doug Bailey recently announced their official "encouragement" of a Bloomberg candidacy. Additional supporters created the "Unite For Mike" Web site to collect signatures for a "Draft Mike Bloomberg for President" petition.

But as anticipation over his potential election bid sizzles, local experts and political groups doubt his ability to emerge as a serious contender for the job.

Former Bloomberg adviser Ester Fuchs, a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, said that it was only natural for Bloomberg to comment on national matters during his address since he frequently contends with those issues as mayor, and this does not necessarily indicate that he plans to make a presidential bid. Fuchs is confident that Bloomberg will not run.

"He said repeatedly that he will not run, and I take him by his word," Fuchs said. "I believe it is entirely plausible that he may change his position but he is somebody who is very conscious about the promises he makes."

Fuchs added that the mayor does not have much incentive to run, as chances for Independents are slim unless the large majority of the electorate is dissatisfied with leading candidates in the two major parties­-something that does not seem the case in the upcoming election.

City politics pundit Doug Muzzio, a Public Affairs professor at Baruch College, agreed that it is unlikely Bloomberg is flirting with the idea of running when he is unlikely to win.

"He may gain an ego-satisfaction, of making history... but he will go down in history as a person who took away the votes from the first woman or the first black president of America," Muzzio said. He added that if Bloomberg chooses to run, he would gain more appeal from Democrats than Republican voters.

But the Columbia Democrats doubt Bloomberg would siphon votes away when the Democratic nominees are currently gaining such momentum.

"Let's not kid ourselves," said Jonathan Backer, CC '10 and spokesperson for the Columbia Democrats. "We have three strong Democratic candidates, there isn't anyone looking for an alternative... especially when Bloomberg only acquired a progressive outlook recently."

Backer said that Bloomberg would be more likely to appeal to members of "the divided Republican Party." The Columbia Republicans declined to provide a statement o Bloomberg's potential candidacy.

Across the entire city, only 27 percent of New York voters want him to run for president this year, and only 12 percent think he is likely to win, according to a Marist College poll released earlier this month.

State Senator Bill Perkins, a leader in Democrat Barack Obama's campaign in New York City, disapproved of the recent flurry of speculation.

"No way. He says he's not in the race," Perkins said. "Those who distract us, they are doing a disservice to the mayor. They are making him look disingenuous or foolish."

Joshua Chambers contributed to this article.
© 2008 Columbia Daily Spectator via U-WIRE