New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has so far held back in deploying his enormous wealth to support 2012 candidates who share his vision for the country. But that will all change Thursday, when the billionaire mayor, a political independent elected on the Republican line, plans to create a super PAC, infuse it with $10 million to $15 million and spread the wealth around the country.
Which candidates will be benefiting from Bloomberg’s money? Those who support gay marriage, tougher gun restrictions and reshaping the education system, according to the mayor’s personal website.
"It's critically important that we have elected officials in Washington, Albany, and around the nation who are willing to work across party lines to achieve real results," Bloomberg said in a statement making the announcement. "I’ve always believed in the need for more independent leadership, and this new effort will support candidates and causes that will help protect Americans from the scourge of gun violence, improve our schools and advance our freedoms."
The statement did not say exactly how much funding the super PAC will receive – it only said it would be eight figures -- but the New York Times reported that $10 million to $15 million will be spent.
Bloomberg’s super PAC, to be named Independence USA PAC, is expected to contribute up to $1 million to each chosen candidate. The super PAC will be targeting candidates from the congressional level down to local school boards, according to the Times.
Angus King, the former independent governor of Maine who is now the leading candidate for the U.S. Senate seat there, will be receiving some of Bloomberg’s super PAC money, as will California congressional candidate Gloria Negrette McLeod (a Democrat challenging a Democratic incumbent) and U.S. Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill.
A Bloomberg adviser who spoke to the Times said the creation of the super PAC indicates that the mayor seeks to have influence after he’s forced out of office by term limits at the end of next year.
“This spending sends a clear message that the mayor intends to keep his wallet open after he leaves office to influence national policy around issues like guns, education and marriage equality,” the adviser said of Bloomberg, who has supported 2012 candidates this year but not to the extent that his super PAC will soon be doing. “If anything, leaving office will free him to do even more.”
Bloomberg picked Howard Wolfson, one of his deputy mayors and a former spokesman for Hillary Clinton, to take charge of the super PAC’s strategy. That includes deciding which candidates to support and ad campaigns, the Times reported.
“The mayor has always stepped forward to back candidates that are willing to cast aside party politics, and candidates who are willing to stand up to special interests to make the right decisions for the people they represent,” Wolfson said in a statement. “This is a major expansion of his efforts nationally, and it’s something I am proud to be a part of.”
Bloomberg switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican before successfully running for New York City mayor in 2001. During his second term, he switched his enrollment to independent, leading to speculation that he would mount a self-financed presidential campaign.