By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent Fri May 18, 1:13 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In an unpredictable 2008 presidential race, the prospect of a viable third-party candidacy -- particularly a self-financed bid by billionaire Michael Bloomberg -- could be the biggest wild card of all.
Reports that Bloomberg, New York's Republican mayor, is willing to spend a big chunk of his personal fortune -- perhaps as much as $1 billion -- on a White House run set off a new round of speculation about his intentions and his possible impact on the November 2008 election.
The speculation was egged on by Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska, a conservative Republican and Iraq war opponent who also is considering an independent bid and had dinner with Bloomberg recently.
A third-party bid would hope to take advantage of public discontent with the Republican and Democratic parties, which already has led 60,000 people to sign up for an Internet-based movement aimed at fielding a bipartisan independent ticket in 2008.
The Unity '08 effort, led by a group of veteran political strategists from both parties, was inspired by the idea that both parties are dominated by their most extreme elements and a majority of Americans are looking for a centrist approach.
OK - Mayor Bloomberg would get my vote no matter what ticket he ran on. I absolutely adore him. And - I really really really like the sound of rthis Unity '08 effort, and am off to do more research. Here's their site: