by John Hawkins | May 15, 2007 10:51 am
There have been rumors floating around for a while that New York’s faux Republican mayor, left-of-center Michael Bloomberg, and widely despised Senator (by Republicans anyway) Chuck Hagel were going to run as independents.
Over the last couple of days, there have been stories breaking (See here & here) that speculated Bloomberg would run with Hagel as his veep.
However, last night, the enormously wealthy Bloomberg very explicitly said he isn’t running for President and as for Hagel, he doesn’t have the money to finance a third party bid or the name recognition to generate the cash he needs.
Does that mean Hagel wouldn’t consider a run as an independent? It’s hard to say. Running for President as a Third Party candidate is about ego, not about winning, because with the way that our political system is set up, it’s almost impossible for a third party candidate to win.
That means the only questions that matter when it comes to third party candidates are: will they appeal more to Democratic or Republican voters and how much of a bite will they take from the candidates that have a chance to win?
When it comes to Bloomberg or Hagel, it’s hard to answer those questions. Neither one of them has particularly good name recognition once you get beyond the political junkies. Moreover, they’re different figures politically. Bloomberg is a left-of-center, nannystater/socialist, but he’s also a Republican. On the other hand, Hagel is a mostly down-the-line conservative except on illegal immigration, where he’s pro-amnesty, and on the war, where he flip-flopped like Hillary Clinton after he stuck his finger up in the air and noticed that public opinion was going the other way on the war.
Whether either of these candidates would pull from Democrats or Republicans if they got in the race would be hard to say. Truthfully, it would probably depend on what they campaigned on. If Hagel stuck the war, he might appeal more to Democrats. But, if he branched out into other areas, he might pull from the GOP. With Bloomberg, he would have mostly left-of-center policies, and would probably pull from the left, but the very fact that he’s a Republican could give him a certain appeal as a protest vote to the right if people don’t like the Republican candidate. Either way, I’d prefer that both of them, along with other third party loser candidates, weren’t in the race.
PS: Joe Klein suggested an Obama-Hagel ticket, which is the sort of thing Democrats consider every year. For example, Kerry pitched McCain on a Veep slot. Is it time for Republicans to think about that sort of thing? For example, maybe a Hunter/Lieberman ticket or a pick your Republican/Lieberman ticket? I’m not saying that the candidate should definitely go in that direction, but if 2008 shapes up to be a tough year for Republicans, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. After all, the President is making the policy, not the veep. So, if the symbolism of having Lieberman as veep could give us a big bump and get a conservative in charge, it could be worth it.
I consult for the Duncan Hunter campaign.
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