Repub­li­cans hope Bloomberg runs; can­di­dacy seen hurt­ing Hil­lary

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Ralph Z. Hallow

Some Repub­li­can ac­tivists hope New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will make a third-party run for the pres­i­dency — pre­dict­ing it would siphon votes from the Democrats’ nom­i­nee and greatly help the party’s con­tender next year.

“Ide­o­log­i­cally, Bloomberg is much more aligned with the Demo­crat base than with Repub­li­cans,” says Repub­li­can di­rect-mail fundraiser Richard Norman. “The more ef­fec­tive his cam­paign, the more he spends, the more he hurts the pre­sump­tive Demo­crat nom­i­nee, Sen­a­tor [Hil­lary Rod­ham] Clin­ton.”

A po­lit­i­cal oper­a­tive close to the mayor’s op­er­a­tion says New York Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheeky and some top Bloomberg ad­vis­ers are urg­ing the bil­lion­aire mayor to make a bid for the pres­i­dency in 2008. Mr. Bloomberg re­peat­edly has said he will not do so.

“It’s about 50-50 that Michael will go for it, and if he does I think it would prob­a­bly help Repub­li­cans,” says David Nor­cross, a friend of the New York mayor and chair­man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s Rules Com­mit­tee.

“If Mike does run, it will be be­cause the other op­tions bore him. He’s def­i­nitely not in­ter­ested in gov­er­nor,” says Mr. Nor­cross, who over­saw the 2004 Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion in New York and sup­ports Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Mitt Rom­ney, the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor.

Con­ven­tional wis­dom had been that a pres­i­den­tial chal­lenge by Mr. Bloomberg, who won his two may­oral terms as a Repub­li­can, would hurt the Repub­li­cans.

But John McLaugh­lin, poll­ster for for­mer Ten­nessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion cam­paign, said that phe­nom- enon would be short-lived.

“As time went on and the two can­di­dates’ po­si­tions were ex­am­ined, Bloomberg would draw lib­er­als and moder­ates from the Democrats,” Mr. McLaugh­lin said.

Rich­mond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, a Demo­crat and for­mer gov­er­nor of Vir­ginia, agrees.

“If the mayor runs, he ob­vi­ously hurts the Democrats,” Mr. Wilder said. “Most Democrats be­lieve he truly is ‘one of them.’ ”

Mr. Bloomberg left the Repub­li­can Party in June to be­come an in­de­pen­dent, af­ter telling aides he would spend $1 bil­lion of his own money if he de­cides to run for the pres­i­dency.

A Gallup poll then found that 12 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers na­tion­ally would vote for him in a three-way matchup with New York Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton as the Democrats’ nom­i­nee and for­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani, the Repub­li­can front-run­ner in na­tional polls.

Poll­ster John Zogby isn’t pre­dict­ing Mr. Bloomberg will drive the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee off the road, but he sees the pos­si­bil­ity.

“The top three things vot­ers tell us they are look­ing for in a pres­i­dent this year is com­pe­tence as a man­ager, abil­ity to cross the aisle and work with the other side and abil­ity to man­age the mil­i­tary,” Mr. Zogby said. “Bloomberg can score on all three counts.”

Mr. McLaugh­lin notes that H. Ross Perot, who led then-Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush and Bill Clin­ton in a three-way race in June 1992, wound up third with 19 per­cent of the vote but de­nied Mr. Bush re­elec­tion.

“Un­like Perot, who polled high in the be­gin­ning and then fell, Mike Bloomberg would start in sin­gle dig­its and then start ad­ver­tis­ing his mes­sage and move up,” Mr. McLaugh­lin said. “He would be more of a fac­tor pre­cisely by draw­ing on vot­ers the Democrats are count­ing upon win­ning.”

For Repub­li­can elec­tion-law spe­cial­ist Cleta Mitchell, the cal­cu­lus of a three-way con­test is sim­ple: “Bloomberg would hurt Democrats. Con­ser­va­tives aren’t go­ing to vote for him any­way. He’s not a real Repub­li­can.”

Nancy Pas­tor / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Ru­mors per­sist that New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg might run for pres­i­dent in 2008, de­spite his dis­avowal.

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