Earlier today, in a moderately surprising move, New Your City Mike Bloomberg switched his political affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated. This move has added fuel to the growing speculation that Bloomberg is considering an independent run for president in 2008. However, Bloomberg said again today that his plans for the future have not changed. “Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city,” he said. Bloomberg has an estimated net worth of about $5 billion, and he could easily self finance his own presidential campaign.

Bloomberg’s departure from the GOP was not surprising because his moderate to liberal views have been at odds with his party from day one. He supports gay marriage, abortion rights, gun control and stem cell research. The mayor also has been known to raise taxes when necessary. Bloomberg has also raised speculation about a 2008 run by sounding an awful lot like a third party presidential candidate. “The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses have paralyzed decision-making, primarily at the federal level, and the big issues of the day are not being addressed, leaving our future in jeopardy,” he said in a speech at USC on Monday.

The question that pundits are now arguing is if Bloomberg does run, who does he take votes away from? My answer to this question is that it will depend on who the nominees are. If the nominees are Giuliani and Clinton, then they will both be hurt by a Bloomberg candidacy. Look at Bloomberg’s positions on social issues, and you will see that they are virtually identical to Giuliani and Clinton. Plus, Bloomberg turns the state of New York’s general election race into a legitimate three way contest. He also has the potential to run as an independent outsider against two well known national faces. If Thompson is the GOP nominee, then Bloomberg will clearly hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans.

Voters in both of the major U.S. parties are disinterested in each of the candidates that their party has designated the frontrunner. Apathy in the two parties is running high. People want change and a new voice. Bloomberg could provide both and serve as magnet for those who wish that they could vote none of the above next November. Unlike other third party candidates, he has to be seen as a legitimate threat because he has both public service experience and a vast reserve of personal wealth.

A Bloomberg candidacy would change the entire dynamic of the 2008 campaign. I feel that the timing is perfect for a strong third party candidate to send a wake up call to both the Democrats and Republicans. Both parties have, for quite a while now, been ignoring the wishes of their rank and file. It might take a strong third party candidate to return their attention back to where it belongs.

Bloomberg quotes came from here.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 6:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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