Former New York mayor, powerful plutocrat, and bonafide Reason #1 "enemy of freedom" Michael Bloomberg claims to be contemplating an independent third party run for president should two candidates he disapproves of, fellow NY moneybags Donald Trump and fellow freedom-hater Bernie Sanders, take the major party reins.
Via information contained in a paper-only issue of Richard Winger's Ballot Access News newsletter, here's a summation of some of the barricades Bloomberg will face.
They are the sorts of barricades that having a lot of money can very much help you jump, allowing you to pay signature gatherers top dollar. He is very wise in not attempting to build a full party apparatus, as the legal qualifications tend to be higher for parties than for lone indies.
Some highlights on ballot access rules Bloomberg would face as a non-party-affiliated independent candidate:
• Only one state, Texas, currently has a deadline any earlier than June (and Winger thinks it is so early it could fall to court challenge).
• 37 states' deadlines not til August or September.
• The most signatures needed for any state is California's 178,039; the least Tennessee's 275.
• Only 4 states require over 50K signatures: California as above, plus Florida (119,316), North Carolina (89,366), Texas (79,539).
• 29 states require 5,000 or fewer signatures, or a similarly small amount of cash payment.
So, Bloomberg has plenty of time and opportunity to make it happen if he chooses, to give America a third completely terrible choice. (The breakdowns of how and from where the signatures need to be gathered are set on a state level and are highly variable, but he has the money to hire the consultants to help him navigate the rules.)
A review essay from 2002 on the "two party system" as a hegemony of both legal power and political science conceptualizing