5:22 pm Feb. 27, 20121
Andrew Doctoroff, an attorney, professor, and the brother of former Bloomberg deputy mayor and current Bloomberg L.P. president Dan Doctoroff, has been touting the need for a third-party candidacy.
"I have been so upset on a personal level, on a visceral level, with the performance of the two major parties, that I was compelled to wonder and think about the feasibility of an independent presidential candidate," Doctoroff told me. "It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about for years, when I started appreciating that the two major parties simply appear incapable of confronting longstanding problems that confront the country."
On Jan. 31, Doctoroff published a column on Huffington Post called, "Why an independent presidential candidate can succeed in 2012," in which he argued that, "Our two-party system is buckling under the weight of its dysfunction. Exhausted by partisan gridlock, Americans are finally ready to embrace a centrist, pragmatic, independent candidate free from the demands of special interests and ideologues."
"Electoral dynamics in 2012 should allow a respected, well-financed independent to perform better than Ross Perot, a deeply-flawed candidate who dropped out of and re-entered the 1992 race, and still received 19 percent of the popular vote," he wrote. "Americans are now more distrustful of the federal government than they were in 1992; they are less partisan now than they were then; the misery index is higher; Congress and the two parties are less popular; and the major parties' candidates will likely be less popular as well."
On Feb. 8, Doctoroff published another column, this one entitled, "Why an independent presidential candidate is desperately needed," in which he reprised much the same argument.
In both articles, Doctoroff links to a self-financed research paper he wrote, "An assessment of the viability of an independent presidential candidacy in 2012," in which he expresses the same idea in a more extensive, footnoted form. In one of his footnotes he cites a book by Bloomberg's pollster Doug Schoen, called Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two Party System, from which he includes a block quote.
The coincidence of Doctoroff's espousal of a third-party candidacy, Bloomberg's well-documented dislike of the two-party system, the mayor's approval of the Americans Elect campaign to open up a spot for an independent candidate in all 50 states, and the periodic efforts by Bloomberg aides to generate interest in the idea of an independent Bloomberg presidential candidacy, led blogger John Lumea to write a post last week about the various connections between Bloomberg world and the efforts of the third-party movementarians.
But Doctoroff, when asked if his brother or anyone in the Bloomberg camp was behind his columns, said, "Absolutely not."
"There’s no coordination with Bloomberg’s folks at all," he told me.
"Right now, I’m a moderate Democrat," said Doctoroff. "And the way things are is Obama has not been specific at all about how to serve these long-term problems, the deficit, tax reform, entitlement reform. He’s giving me right now the choice of voting for him, with his lack of specificity, or voting for Romney, which I’m not going to do ... He won’t have me if there’s a third party talking about centrist solutions to these problems and embracing for example, Simpson-Bowles."
The mayor, for one, has been a regular advocate of a Simpson-Bowles-like overhaul, I pointed out.
"I have no reason to believe he will [run]," said Doctoroff. "And I will also be candid with you, I wish he would. No one has ever told me anything, including my brother, that Bloomberg has any plans to run for 2012."
Asked who he would like to see on a third-party ticket, Doctoroff mentioned Kent Conrad and Mitch Daniels.
Doctoroff said the fact that no one has come forward as an independent candidate this cycle "is one of the great mysteries of our times."
"I think that Americans Elect, frankly, is talking to people, and I don’t know who will throw his or her hat in the ring," said Doctoroff. "I know that there are conversations that are ongoing, but more than that I just don’t know."
How does he know what he does know?
"That’s their mission," said Doctoroff. "I don’t feel comfortable saying anything more than that. I would suggest you do call Americans Elect and ask them about that."
UPDATE: I asked Doctoroff via email after our conversation to clarify whether he has any relationship with Americans Elect.
"Now, I do. After I showed Americans Elect my research paper in January, Americans Elect asked me to serve on its Board of Advisors, and I have agreed to do so. I don't know whether I am even listed on its roster yet. I didn't have any prior relationship with Americans Elect. None. I learned about it from a Thomas Friedman column months ago. Then, when I was at a family reunion over Thanksgiving in Boston, and I was expressing consternation about our two-party system, my cousin said he knew Kahlil Byrd at Americans Elect. I said I was interested in what Americans Elect is trying to do. My cousin (who lives in the Boston area), at my request, was nice enough to introduce Kahlil and me via e-mail."
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