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Confirmed: Unity08 in talks with Bloomberg Staff About Presidential Run

Over the December holiday break, the Associated Press confirmed the whispers of a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial. Advisers to Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are in talks with Unity08:

Kevin Sheekey, a deputy mayor and Bloomberg’s close adviser who is credited with masterminding his landslide re-election last year, makes no secret of the fact that he is urging the billionaire to jump in and shake up the race.

Aides acknowledge that Bloomberg quietly sought advice from veteran political operatives. They say he also asked his lawyers to investigate what it would take to get on a general election ballot, though he is said to have concluded the state-by-state process is too bothersome.

Sheekey himself has met with the founders of Unity08, a fledgling alternative to the two parties that is trying to position itself as the vehicle for a centrist run at the White House. Unity08’s goal is to provide such a campaign with a ready-made political and financial base of 20 million voters and to help navigate the complicated ballot access system.

Michael Bloomberg could use a vehicle like Unity08 to insist that he is above partisanship and all that. And one can see why Unity08 would want someone like Bloomberg as an ally. The AP article continues:

He has money, money and more money. He spent more than $70 million of his own money in his first mayoral campaign, then he dropped $85 million into his re-election effort and doesn’t have to worry about getting an early start to hit the political donor circuit.

All that has created Bloomberg buzz in Democratic and Republican circles.

“He is a man of immense financial capacity,” observed former Democratic Party Chairman Donald Fowler. “He can spend $10 or $20 million and not miss it anymore than you or I would if we visited McDonald’s.”

If Bloomberg brings his megamillions to the table, Unity08 can kiss its considerable financial problems bye-bye. All very convenient for Michael Bloomberg and Unity08 in their hush-hush inner-sanctum negotiations. And, should the deal come together, the political inside operatives will be able to tally another smoke-filled back room political deal to their credit. The rest of us will be left on the side of the street, where convenient “grassroots” are meant to stay and help form a pretty campaign picture.

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