Back in May reason hosted a forum on libertarian politics with Libertarian Party presidential candidates Bob Barr, Wayne Root, and Mike Gravel, and Republican congressional candidate Vern McKinley. As we were setting up our cameras, a dapper middle-aged man named Carey Campbell walked in and introduced himself as the chairman of the Virginia Independent Green Party.
"Of course!" I said. "You nominated Gail Parker for Senate in 2006."
"Oh, let me tell you what we're doing this year!" Campbell said. The party was gathering signatures for a Mike Bloomberg/Ron Paul ticket, a natural fit for Campbell, who led (leads, I guess) the Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg. I didn't know what would come of it, but lo and behold:
"Yes, it's true," an exuberant Campbell declared. "In eight months and 15 days, we collected over 70,000 signatures. Right now, we're the only state in the nation that has Michael Bloomberg on the ballot for President."
Seventy thousand signatures is a lot: Seven times what you need to get on the ballot, actually. (And you need to collect at least 500 from each congressional district.) The IGs burned a lot of gasoline doing this, but they're on a mission. (Over there on the right is a picture of Parker with Bloomberg in New York.)
I called up Paul spokesman Jesse Benton and asked what Paul thought of the scheme. "We were just talking about it," Benton said. "He thinks it's kind of neat that libertarian message has crossover appeal. Obviously there's not much Ron has in common with the mayor, so it's a bit of a publicity stunt. But they wouldn't have thought of him as a candidate if his name didn't have some pull."
Paul will not challenge his ballot status. "We're not going to take any action to get his name off," Benton said, "but at the same time we're not encouraging it." Does Paul have any common ground with the mayor who brought you the smoking ban? "As a fan of Michael Bloomberg's news network, Ron recognizes they have a lot of differences on monetary policy and the size of government."
So, yes, it's a stunt. I tend to think any minimal Bloomberg vote will hurt McCain, since the election's being framed day by day as a choice between Obama and not-Obama. And it's not like anyone who'd vote for a Bloomberg stunt candidacy will know about his issue stances, which place him a little closer to the Democrat.