What Others See in Future for Michael Bloomberg

Tuesday, 05 Nov 2013 08:36 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Just hours before the polls closed Tuesday, Forbes magazine asked friends and foes of three-term New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg what they think the future holds for the self-made billionaire politician.

Walter Isaacson, biographer and member of the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said he had not talked to his friend about it, "but he could be set up to be a leader of a centrist, pragmatic, data-driven, non-ideological political movement in this country."

"Maybe it isn't done by running for president on a third-party ticket. Maybe it's done by creating a movement at the state and local levels," said Isaacson, who is also president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based educational and policy studies organization.

"He could fund candidates in favor of school reform, fiscal responsibility, gun control, and also a non-populist taxation policy; in other words, one that's not 'soak the rich.'"

Bloomberg confidante and Democratic political strategist Howard Wolfson sees Bloomberg seeking higher political office.

"I think he'd be a great president," Wolfson said. "Come back and ask us in 2½ years."

"The future can be anything he wants it to be," said Mort Zuckerman, owner of the New York Daily News and co-founder and executive chairman of Boston Properties. "He's got the bug of public service now, and he'll find a way to make a huge contribution there."

J. Justin Wilson, a research analyst for the Center for Consumer Freedom -- the group that broadcast the famous "nanny ad" that opposed Bloomberg's failed attempt to make it illegal to serve sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. in the city -- said Bloomberg's money can't change the public's will.

"He’s been the imperial mayor," Wilson said. "He will lose power now. There's not much appetite in many jurisdictions to pursue what he wants to pursue. His money won't change public opinion. You can't buy people's hearts and minds as he could buy the force of law of government."

Paul Tudor Jones II, founder of Tudor Investment Corp., said the 71-year-old billionaire should focus on improving the country's educational system.

"The absolute breakdown of public education is the single biggest threat — internally and externally — that we have in this country. Bloomberg, I hope, will be the public figure of the effort to change this. He doesn't know it, but I'm going to talk him into doing it. This would be his single greatest achievement."

A former New York City deputy mayor for governmental affairs, Kevin Sheekey, who is now with the mayor's company, Bloomberg LP, says, "Being mayor actually made him very local. The world is a big place, and there is a lot to do. In many ways he's taken a time-out from doing those things for the last 12 years. And now that time-out is over."

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