Vitamin Bloomberg and The LGBT Vote

The sickening contest for the presidency of the U.S. just got a serious injection of Vitamin B with the strong rumors of Michael Bloomberg’s intention to toss his hat into the ring as an Independent, with the potential to make the race literally a three-ring circus.

A Bloomberg run would put a huge dent in the fender of the clown car of Republican candidates, but would it do the same to the Smartcar-candidacy of Bernie Sanders and the Escalade-candidacy of Hillary Clinton?

The only car not dented by a Bloomberg candidacy would be the Popemobile driven by the Christian Right. Although it could be argued that their warbling about the notion that our nation is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition might allow them to put a checkmark next to a Jewish name.

Florida’s own Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, recently said that once Bloomberg thinks it through, he will realize that his agenda is adequately served by either Clinton or Sanders and that he will stay out of the fight. This might indicate fear that his independent run would damage the Democratic candidate. Regarding the distribution of the LGBT vote, the impact of a run by the man who held the second most difficult job in the U.S. is not easy to calculate.

Michael Bloomberg, who has been elected to public office as a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent, and who can trump Trump in terms of personal wealth and NewYorkishness, has a record on LGBT issues that is not shabby.

He is pro-marriage equality. In 2011, as Mayor of New York City, he performed the first-ever same-sex wedding to be held at Gracie Mansion, joining his Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt with his Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.

There is a long list of LGBT fans of Bloomberg who appreciate some of what he accomplished as mayor. I asked Wayne Besen who is on that list for his thoughts about a possible Bloomberg candidacy.

Besen hosts a TV show in Chicago, is an activist-writer and the founder/executive director of TruthWinsOut.org.

He says, “My endorsement of Bloomberg had little to do with LGBT issues. He's the only Republican I have ever endorsed. I supported him because of the Smoke Free Air Act, which banned smoking at bars and nightclubs. He made this happen and drastically improved the quality of my life. No more coming home after a night on the town coughing and feeling sick. I also supported his opening up parks and banning cars from some areas.

“So, my support was based on quality of life issues that had a direct impact on me. In the 2016 race I support Bernie Sanders. I also think Hillary Clinton who would make an amazing president. But Bernie's message is the most compelling.

“Bloomberg is far better than any of the Republicans running for office.”

What is most intriguing about Besen’s assessment and any predictions about the LGBT vote in 2016 is the fact that our votes will not be easily acquired by the simple flapping of a rainbow flag. Is the LGBT voter finally immune to headlines like HRC’s recent and hyper endorsement of Hillary? LGBT voters, like so many others, want to see sincerity, magnanimity and strength in a candidate.

Significant is the fact that Bloomberg did not feel compelled to run for president because of his ego. He was OK with letting lesser oligarchs and political dynasties duke it out in the mud. He would enter the contest only because of his disgust with the current crop of candidates and probably because of his conviction that America deserves better. This would not be lost on voters who are not finding a shred of respectable motivation among the megalomaniacs who want the office more than the job.

If the three-ring circus settles on Cruz/Clinton/Bloomberg, Hillary stands to lose some but not most LGBT support. If the circus ultimately trots out Trump/Clinton/Bloomberg, The Donald and Hillary lose support in equal measure with Hillary surviving the split. In the unlikely event that we are faced with a Trump/Sanders/Bloomberg choice, I suspect the Independent would prevail, unless those so horrified by his name burn down the tent before November.


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