Vice-President Bloomberg?

Michael_R_BloombergSo, it’s Super Tuesday in the US, and thoughts turn to just how this Presidential race might turn out. It’s looking increasingly likely that tonight will put the two leading candidates for their parties into near-locks on their nominations, so how does a Clinton vs Trump race play out.

One choice both candidates will have to make is a Vice-Presidential running mate. Trying to guess what Trump would do here seems like a fool’s errand, as conventional political wisdom doesn’t apply to his candidacy and the prospect of him whittling through randomly chosen candidates in an Apprentice-style format seems as likely as him making a rational choice of someone to balance the ticket, but Clinton has interesting options.

The three names I’ve seen suggested most often for her running mate are Housing Secretary Julian Castro, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. All three have strong cases to make for the nomination, but I find myself wondering if former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could also be an option for her.

There are two obvious obstacles to Bloomberg being on the ticket. First, he’s from New York, the same as Clinton, so it could cause trouble in the electoral college (electors aren’t allowed to vote for a President and Vice-President from their own state) and secondly, he’s currently an independent, rather than a Democrat.

The first would be relatively easy to overcome. In the same way Dick Cheney switched his residence from Texas to Wyoming in 2000, Bloomberg could name one of his other homes – possibly in Colorado – and avoid that problem. The second is perhaps more of a problem for the Democratic Party than the electorate as a whole, but the Clinton response could well be to point out that Bernie Sanders was also an independent until recently, and that didn’t stop him from running in the primaries.

They’re also offset by the advantages he brings. Most notably, there’s the $40 billion he’s worth, including the billion he’s hinted at using for an independent presidential campaign, which also serves as a great deflater of Trump’s ‘I’m a businessman, I know how to make deals’ argument. Trump started with millions from his father, and all his noisy deal-making hasn’t outperformed what he could have achieved investing it quietly. Bloomberg started with little and turned it into a fortune that’s around an order of magnitude larger than Trump’s.

He’d also give Clinton a strong appeal to independents and moderate Republicans turned off by Trump and open up the prospect of her getting not just a victory but a blowout, with all the coattail effects that might mean for Democrats getting control of the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the White House. It would be a very tempting opportunity for the Democrats to take advantage of the turmoil in the Republican Party by selecting a running mate who can hammer a wedge into a potentially split party.

There are downsides with Bloomberg – he’s a Wall Street billionaire with little experience of politics outside New York City, and open to lots of attacks – and there’d be a big question over how much power Clinton would have to promise the Vice-Presidency to get him to agree to run, so it’s not a simple choice for Clinton to make. However, I think he’d be a strong option for her choice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if speculation about him joining the ticket rises as discussion of his potential independent bid fades away.