Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media chieftain and former mayor of New York, is considering an independent presidential bid, according to The New York Times, Politico and other media outlets.
Bloomberg, 73, is said to be weighing a candidacy over concerns that candidates in both parties are not talking to the center of the electorate or of bipartisan solutions. He is said to be looking at an early March deadline for deciding whether to run, according to The New York Times. He reportedly would be willing to spend up to $1 billion on a presidential run.
A spokeswoman for Bloomberg declined to comment. But aides to Bloomberg, who returned to head Bloomberg LP in 2014, have retweeted the New York Times story.
Bloomberg considered an independent presidential bid in 2008, a year after he switched his party affiliation from Republican to independent, but ultimately decided against it as the race shaped up as a campaign against Barack Obama and John McCain. Bloomberg endorsed Obama’s reelection in 2012.
But so far, the Republican primary is being led by Trump, who has appealed to disaffected voters with a mixture of populist anger and nativist rhetoric. Bloomberg has long been a champion of comprehensive immigration reform, stricter gun regulations and action on climate change, all issues that have been non-starters so far in the GOP primary.
On the Democratic side, polls show Bernie Sanders leading in New Hampshire and even in Iowa in some surveys, with a left-leaning message focused on corruption on Wall Street, a sector that helped drive the tremendous growth of Bloomberg’s media business. Bloomberg also is said to have concerns that Clinton has veered too far to the left and is beset by questions of her use of a private email server.
Bloomberg was a Republican when first elected mayor of New York in 2001, but switched his affiliation to independent in 2007. That came a day after attending a conference in Los Angeles on the importance of centrist politics and bipartisanship.
If he were to run, and Clinton and Trump were the Democratic and Republican nominees, it would pit three New Yorkers against each other. Each of the candidates also has extensive ties to the entertainment industry and media business. A Bloomberg candidacy could peel away some support, particularly from Clinton, although Bloomberg’s ability to self-finance would ease the awkwardness of having his supporters publicly disclosed on Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports.
Recent cycles have seen efforts to recruit a candidate to run a centrist campaign, only to fizzle. No independent has won the presidency, a testament to dominance of the two-party system.
Rupert Murdoch weighed in on the potential candidacy via Twitter, saying, “Seems 2016 the year for populists.”