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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

Will Michael Bloomberg be our next president? Or our next mayor?

From left, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and New

From left, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg express their displeasure with police oversight legislation being voted on by the City Council, during a news conference at One Police Plaza on Monday in Manhattan on June 24, 2013. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

So Michael Bloomberg wants to run for president.


Should polarizing outsiders Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz become the Republican nominee, and self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders get the Democratic nod, the billionaire former mayor would run as a centrist, independent candidate. And he will reportedly make his decision in the first week of March — or after the crucial Super Tuesday primaries.

That, at least, is his hope. Bloomberg hoped the same thing in 2008. But no swell of support for him developed. Instead, he settled for running again for mayor.

Can history repeat itself?

In running for a third mayoral term in 2009, Bloomberg had a problem: the city’s two-term limit law, which Bloomberg promised to abide by when he first ran in 2001. Instead, he acted like a true billionaire, tossing his money around so the City Council would repeal the law. Then after his re-election in 2009, he backed a return to a mayoral two-term limit law.

Many people consider Bloomberg a successful mayor. Major construction was begun across the city, from the Second Avenue subway to the West Side High Line. When it came to law enforcement, Bloomberg placed all power in NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. After the mayor, Kelly became the most powerful person in city government and the longest-serving police commissioner in city history.

While he kept crime low and terrorism at bay, Kelly’s legacy is mixed. After revelations that the NYPD spied on Muslims and conducted stop-and-frisks mostly of young black and Hispanic men, nearly all without justification, the NYPD is now under the supervision of a third outside monitor, something that had never before occurred in NYPD history.

In 2008, when Bloomberg first considered a presidential bid, Kelly considered running for mayor. Since leaving the department in 2014, Kelly has again made noises that he may run.

But if history repeats itself, Bloomberg will again not run for president. With Mayor Bill de Blasio struggling in the polls, Bloomberg could pull the rug out from Kelly as he did in 2008 and decide to run again for mayor in 2017.

He wouldn’t have to worry about term limits. The law, reinstated by voters in 2010, applies to two consecutive terms.


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