With a growing number of high-profile polls showing majority support for the rise of a viable third party, several potential candidates for the 2012 presidential election have already been proposed. Names such as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Evan Bayh, Lou Dobbs, Jesse Ventura, and Michael Bloomberg have been tossed around from time to time. While the 2012 election is over two years away, an eternity in the political arena, a nearly 4-year Great Recession, low approval ratings of the two major parties, the rapid growth of Independent voters, and strong, multi-partisan support for a 3rd party warrant a closer look at the early list of potential contenders.
As the first installment, the name most commonly mentioned is New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg. He has been a Democrat, Republican, and Independent, and is currently supporting certain candidates from across the political spectrum in the upcoming 2010 mid-terms.
Bloomberg is viewed as a viable candidate due to his immense personal wealth and his reputation for working with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. On the domestic side of things, he has supported a public health care option, public education reform, stronger gun control laws, free trade, and tax breaks for large corporations. As mayor, he has raised taxes, enacted spending cuts, and supported "green" legislation. He is an advocate of some form of amnesty for illegal immigrants, opposes the legalization of marijuana, and is a staunch defender of 1st amendment rights, having supported the 'Ground Zero' Mosque and the Florida pastor's original intention to conduct Koran burnings (despite personal misgivings).
On social issues, Bloomberg is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-embryonic stem cell funding, and anti-death penalty. Regarding foreign policy. he supported the Iraq War, is a proponent of the global War on Terror, and supports the Patriot Act.
Fans of Bloomberg have created a website and a Facebook page to draft him for a presidential bid in 2012. With tremendous name recognition, billions to self-finance, prestige as NYC's three-time mayor, and a reputation for adopting a more multi-partisan approach in his political dealings, Bloomberg could prove a formidable contender if he decides to run.