Will Mike Run For President As Sane Perot?
Will Mike Run For President As Sane Perot?
By: Ben Smith
Back in the late 1990's, Mike Bloomberg was just another media mogul
and Kevin Sheekey was a young aide floating a crazy idea: that his
boss would run for Mayor of New York.
Now Mr. Bloomberg is Mayor, and Mr. Sheekey, freighted with a long
City Hall title, has been floating another suggestion: Mike for President.
Of the United States. Perot-style, only less weird. As a Democrat or
an independent, on a platform of competence and nonpartisanship.
Shooting up the middle in a national election between, let's just say,
Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. (Would he live in the White House?
The townhouse? Would he, finally, marry his girlfriend?)
"Still not ready to discuss the strategy for the early primary
states," Mr. Sheekey, now the city's deputy mayor for government
relations, said in an e-mail.
But Bloomberg insiders say the Mayor's closest political aide has been
pushing a 2008 bid. "Kevinhe's a big dreamer. He has great confidence
in the Mayor," said Bill Cunningham, who was until recently Mr.
Bloomberg's communications director. Mr. Cunningham called the
national speculation a "parlor game," but went on to note that "crime
and balancing budgets and working on educationthose issues translate
And to many political professionals, Mr. Sheekey's dream isn't all
"He would have a very strong record to run on," said Robert Shrum, the
noted consultant and veteran of Democratic Presidential politics.
"That old Dukakis line might have some resonance, though it didn't
work for Dukakis: The issue in this election is competence."
"If he was to run for office again, he would run for President," said
Richard Bryers, who worked with legendary city consultant David Garth
on both of Mr. Bloomberg's campaigns. "Obviously Mike would be able to
get his message out, and in the right environment he could be an
incredibly compelling candidate."
Mr. Sheekey's only obstacle, it seems, is his boss. In his
autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, Mr. Bloomberg expressed a
passing interest in the Presidency. "If I ever ran, it would be for a
job in the executive branch of governmentmayor, governor, or
president. I think I'd be great," he wrote, adding parenthetically
that he had "no current plans to enter the public arena."
More recently, however, he has all but ruled it out. "I'll send my
mother a copy of a letter that suggested I had an interest in running
for President, which I don't," he said last year. "She'll be very
pleased that anybody even mentioned my name."
Most people around Mr. Bloomberg take him at his word, as do the camps
of other 2008 hopefuls.
"Kevin must be bored in his new position to be thinking this up," said
Senator John McCain's political advisor, John Weaver, who added that
Mr. McCain "thinks the world" of Mr. Bloomberg.
It's open to debate what Mr. Sheekey is up to. After agreeing to an
interview, he didn't return telephone calls or e-mails from The
Observer, though he did e-mail over the suggestion that a reporter
contact a former Perot campaign manager. Some speculate that he's
simply raising Mr. Bloomberg's stock locally by floating the prospect
of a national run. Others wonder if the target of the spin isn't the
Mayor himself, who would need some convincing to abandon a job he
appears to love for the snowy fields of Iowa. "I think they think over
time, they'll grind him down," said New York Times City Hall bureau
chief Jim Rutenberg on WCBS-TV last month.
A Driving Force
Mr. Sheekey has emerged as something of a driving force in the second
Bloomberg administration, which has been characterized by a flurry of
his trademark high-concept political gambits, such as picking fights
with President George W. Bush and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph
Bruno. Mr. Sheekey first publicly floated the notion the day after Mr.
Bloomberg's sweeping Nov. 8 re-election victory over Fernando Ferrer.
He raised it, unprompted, by knocking it down during an interview on
NY1 News, saying that a Bloomberg '08 campaign was "not likely."
Since then, people in Mr. Bloomberg's camp acknowledge, the deputy
mayor has fed a low-grade buzz about the possibility, including an
editorial in The New York Sun pushing the prospect. And it was picked
up by gossip queen Liz Smith on Feb. 12. "By the by, the `Bloomberg
for President' bandwagon has already begun rolling!" she wrote.
"People are coming up to me all the time and saying Mike Bloomberg
should run for President," said Mitchell Moss, a New York University
professor who worked for the Mayor's first campaign.
And so Mr. Sheekey is feeding a dream that, in part, comes with the
job. "If you're the Governor of New York or the Mayor of New York,
there's always some speculation," Mr. Cunningham said. Mayors of New
York notoriously fail to advance to higher officebut they're always
rumored to be trying.
All of this could be more than theoretical, and the difference between
Mr. Sheekey's whimsy and his boss' determination is never entirely
clear. What's more, the expensive business of putting together a
campaign infrastructure is of no concern to Mr. Bloomberg, one of the
few Americans who could afford to self-finance a campaign anticipated
to cost between $200 million and $300 million. Indeed, he's already
built a national-quality campaign organization, with consultants and
pollsters drawn from the top ranks of the Democratic Party's political
apparatus. (Yes, that's rightthe Democratic Party apparatus. And yes,
Mr. Bloomberg currently is a Republican.)
"He can put a national campaign together," said Ester Fuchs, a
Columbia University professor and former City Hall policy advisor.
"Somebody like Sheekey, and the rest of the teamPatti Harris, Doug
Schoen, Bill Knapp, Ed Skylerthese are people who have done or are
capable of doing national campaigns."
Political analysts concurred that Mr. Bloomberg would have little hope
in a Republican primary, where he could be one of three New York
liberals in the race, along with Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki.
Still, the Mayor would face a difficult decision: run in a crowded
Democratic primary (which could include another New Yorker, Hillary
Clinton), or create his own line and risk serving as a spoilerperhaps
at Mr. Giuliani's expense, more so than any Democrat's.
Each path has its history. Mr. Bloomberg's Republican-Liberal
predecessor, John Lindsay, sought the Democratic nomination for
President in 1972, Mr. Shrum recalled.
"It's not a happy precedent," he added, noting that Mr. Lindsay did
poorly in that year's primaries.
The alternative is the Perot model. The Texan financed a 1992 campaign
that brought him over 19 percent of the vote despite an eccentric,
undisciplined personal style that had him drop out of the race in
July, only to re-enter in October.
"It's as plausible as Ross Perot running," said Bill Hillsman, a
political adman who has worked for independents including Mr. Perot,
professional wrestler turned Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and the
rocker Kinky Friedman, who is now making a plausible bid to be
Governor of Texas.
"If he ran as an independent, it gets very interesting very quickly,"
he continued. "You're going to have the Democrats shooting at the
Republicans and the Republicans shooting at the Democrats. Mike can
make the argument of competence."
A Democratic political consultant, Hank Sheinkopf, offered a message
for the Mayor: "He'll clean up the mess in Washington; he'll make the
Mr. Shrum offered another suggestion: "If you can make it here, you
can make it anywhere."
- DRAFT MIKE BLOOMBERG! A Bloomberg-Clark ticket is hard to beat. Even
better, a Bloomberg-Clark administration will literally save the world
and advance mankind.
- It does sound like an interesting ticket, but I think the first person
a draft movement would need to convince would be Bloomberg himself:
Mayor squashes idea of running for president, again
By SARA KUGLER
Associated Press Writer
February 15, 2006, 3:56 PM EST
NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg shot down, again, the suggestion
that his next move might be a run for president, asking reporters on
Wednesday "which letter of the word 'No' do you not understand?"
The 64-year-old Republican mayor began his second term last month and
says repeatedly that his first job in elected office will be his last.
"It's the greatest job in the world, one that I think I can contribute
something to the city that I love and the city that my family lives in
and will continue to live in," said Bloomberg, who is a billionaire
"When I get done with this in four years, I've said that my next
career will be in philanthropy. That has not changed," he added.
It's the same response he gave the last time the question was asked
publicly _ the morning after Election Day last fall, when he crushed
his opponent and won a second term.
"I couldn't make it more clear," he said on Nov. 9. "I will work, God
willing, for the next four years for this city as mayor and then go
into the world of philanthropy for my next career."
So why won't this go away?
Some point to Bloomberg's top political adviser and deputy mayor,
Kevin Sheekey, who masterminded his boss's re-election and enjoys
winking at the rumor as one of his favorite reporter-torturing devices.
The running political parlor game now is to guess where Sheekey will
next direct his energy. Many say he would like to convince Bloomberg
to join the 2008 race_ which is already crowded with possible
contenders from New York, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gov.
George Pataki and Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph Giuliani.
After the idea was revived again Wednesday in The New York Observer,
Bloomberg squashed the notion that anyone could change his mind.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@...> wrote:
> DRAFT MIKE BLOOMBERG! A Bloomberg-Clark ticket is hard to beat. Even
> better, a Bloomberg-Clark administration will literally save the world
> and advance mankind.
> "When I get done with this in four years, I've said that my nextWhich is not a bad decision, after all. But I think he should just run
> career will be in philanthropy. That has not changed," he added.
and be the next Perot anyway.