Last Thursday, I offered some speculation that — despite his frequent protestations to the contrary —
the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, might actually be getting a little bit more serious about testing the waters for a presidential run in 2012.
Bloomberg and his associates long had expressed interest in the possibility of using Americans Elect
as a vehicle for such a run. And there was plenty of evidence to suggest that the feeling was mutual.
Now, an attorney and former journalist named Andrew Doctoroff had just published, within the last four weeks, three pieces arguing for the necessity and viability of
an independent presidential candidacy in 2012.
The thing is, Doctoroff's brother, Daniel, was
Bloomberg's deputy mayor from 2001 to 2007,
before joining Bloomberg LP, where he now serves
as President and CEO.
Indeed, in the longest of Doctoroff's three pieces — a 40-page research paper (pdf) titled "An Assessment of the Viability of an Independent Presidential Candidacy in 2012" — Doctoroff, who never mentioned Bloomberg by name, painted a portrait of the ideal independent candidate that looked an awful lot like, well, Michael Bloomberg.
And Doctoroff's sudden spate of electoral analysis
got its first airing on the Web site of — yep —
Might there be something to all this?
DANA RUBINSTEIN of Capital — the "online news publication about how things work in New York,"
founded in 2010 by Josh Benson and Tom McGeveran, two veterans of the New York Observer — decided to
call Andrew Doctoroff, to try to find out. She's up with a new piece that details the results of her conversation.
According to Doctoroff, his published analysis involved "no coordination with Bloomberg’s folks at all" — and, unless and until there's evidence to the contrary, there's no reason to doubt that.
But, in the end, Doctoroff did "sing" to Rubinstein the finale that was waiting in the wings of all of his published pieces: "I wish [Bloomberg] would" run. Shortly, I will come to one reason why Doctoroff's saying this is quite problematic.
But certainly — surely — it would be disingenuous of Doctoroff to suggest that he didn't didn't have Bloomberg in mind while writing a paper that lays out this fairly specific personal financial benchmark for the success
of an independent presidential candidate in 2012:
In 2012, if the political climate does not
change significantly in the months ahead,
an independent candidate should be able to eclipse the performance of Perot, garnering a significantly higher percentage of the popular vote. Obviously, this assessment also assumes that an independent candidate would be able to spend on his or her campaign an amount of money (adjusted for inflation) comparable to what Perot spent in 1992, i.e., $73 million.
Adjusted for inflation, Perot's personal spend
would be something on the order of $120 million in
2012. There are exceedingly few people mentioned as prospective (Americans Elect) independent candidates whose net-worth ceilings are high enough to provide for that kind of outlay. Does Jon Huntsman have a spare $120 million? Christie Whitman? I don't know. But what everybody — including Doctoroff — does know is that Mike Bloomberg has the cash.
I ALSO still contend that Doctoroff would not have financed and produced a 40-page research paper — including enlisting the aid of a University of Michigan doctoral student — without the reasonable guarantee that his work would find an influential audience.
Doctoroff told Rubinstein:
I didn't have any prior relationship with Americans Elect. None. I learned about it
from a Thomas Friedman column months ago. Then, when I was at a family reunion over Thanksgiving in Boston, and I was expressing consternation about our two-party system, my cousin said he knew [Americans Elect CEO] Kahlil Byrd....I said I was interested in what Americans Elect is trying to do. My cousin
(who lives in the Boston area), at my request, was nice enough to introduce Kahlil and me
Doctoroff also told Rubinstein: "After I showed
Americans Elect my research paper in January, Americans Elect asked me to serve on its Board of Advisors, and I have agreed to do so."
Remember that the link to Doctoroff's research paper first was published on the Americans Elect Web site. My guess is that Doctoroff's decision to produce the paper grew out of his conversation with Americans
Elect CEO Kahlil Byrd — that, in effect, Americans
Elect commissioned Doctoroff's paper, even if they
didn't fund it.
Is Doctoroff's paper now part of the packet of briefing materials that Americans Elect is using to try to recruit candidates? Almost certainly.
Did Americans Elect offer Doctoroff a spot on its Board
of Advisors, in part, to say thanks for this contribution? Probably.
Does Americans Elect's effort to expand its resources
to include both Doctoroff's paper and Doctoroff himself also have specifically to do with its desire to make
a stronger case to Michael Bloomberg — one of the people Americans Elect most would like to recruit as
a candidate? Possibly.
IT'S especially telling that Doctoroff did not disclose to Rubinstein his personal connections to Americans Elect — including his position on the Board of Advisors — until after she pressed for the information in a follow-up email.
In fact, it's Doctoroff's new position at Americans Elect that now should make his personal public advocacy of a Bloomberg candidacy problematic.
According to Americans Elect's By-Laws, both Directors and Officers "shall not communicate or act in favor of
or in opposition to any candidate for President or Vice President at any time before the adjournment of the online nominating convention of Americans Elect."
According to the group's Rules: "Until the Americans Elect ticket has been selected by majority vote of participating Delegates in the Nominating Round of voting, Americans Elect shall be neutral with respect to all Candidates and shall not endorse, oppose, advance,
or advocate any particular Candidate."
In other words: With his comments favoring a Bloomberg run, Doctoroff is in violation of American's Elect's stated policy on neutrality.
Alas, this policy has not kept several others at Americans Elect from making their personal preferences public.
But that is a matter for another post (soon).