NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has left the Republican party. I have a couple of immediate reactions to this:
First - what's the big deal? He was never a Republican to begin with. He only joined the GOP to get elected mayor on Rudy's coattails. Before his mayoral ambitions, he was a registered (and liberal) Democrat.
- Second, this is a major move toward an independent Presidential campaign. The mood of the American people is decidely anti-partisan right now. (Imagine Ross Perot circa 1992 in this environment!) Bloomberg is setting himself up to be the independent candidate for President.
The interesting thing here is that if Hillary and Rudy both win their parties' nominations, we could have three major candidates for President from New York, including two NYC mayors.
The problem with Bloomberg is that he is the wrong kind of independent. His policies and positions are a carbon copy of the standard Democrat fare. (Conventional wisdom is that he hurts the Republican nominee, but I think he actually hurts the Democrat.) For an independent candidate to truly have an impact, I think he or she would need to be a more consistent ideologically and principle-driven candidate.
And independent who made a consistent and conservative case for smaller government and withdrawl from the Iraq war (ie, a libertarian) could have a significant impact in the election. Who is that person, though?
The sticky wicket in all of this is immigration. It is the issue - even more than the war - that could cause a split of voters from their normal party affiliation. Can a candidate who taps into the populist sentiment against illegal immigration and for strong border security and enforcement gain enough traction to pull conservative Republicans and Reagan Democrats from their parties? And does such a person exist?
All of this without a mention of (possible, probable) candidates like Al Gore, Ralph Nader, Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson ... I think we are a long, long way from knowing what Presidential politics is going to look like next year.