There appears growing interest in a third-party candidacy by many voters disillusioned by the two parties monopoly. Ron Paul and Michael Bloomberg appear the leading contenders for such a run. Notably, under the 12th Amendment such a candidate could be the next president through a plausible series of events.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, now an independent, has long been eyeing a run for the White House. This week there are reports that he is expressing renewed interest. Notably, Former Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma, who organized an event on bipartisanship with former Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat of Georgia, suggested that if the prospective major party nominees failed within two months to formally embrace bipartisanship and address the fundamental challenges facing the nation, “I would be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent.”
According to press accounts, the mayor’s advisers have been quietly canvassing potential campaign consultants about their availability in the coming months. For one such report, click here
The filing deadline for the petitions in states like Texas is May 12. Bloomberg’s personal wealth would help in such an attempt.Ron Paul is another highly credible third-party possibility.
Paul is on fire on the Internet and has shown remarkable and growing popularity with independent voters. Highly principled and passionate, he strikes a contrast to the robotic candidates of the two main parties. He has been very successful in raising money — now approaching $20 million.
Such a candidate could conceivable pull off a run for the White House due to the operation of the 12th amendment. They would need to take only one state — or even in a state like Nebraska, a single electoral vote — to go to Congress in an contested election.The 12th Amendment states:
” … the person having the greatest number of [electoral college] votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”
This has long been something of a parlor game for constitutional law professors. Under this system, ties are broken by the House of Representatives.The first election subject to the 12th Amendment was in 1804. The amendment proved determinative in 1824 when Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay were contenders and had received significant but insufficient votes. Jackson had the most votes. Yet, despite his plurality, Jackson lost to Adams who had received the endorsement of Clay — the Speaker of the House.
Under this system, each state congressional delegation casts one vote. Thus, rather than 435 votes, there would be 50 votes in the House. The advantage rests with the Democrats since in the 110th Congress they have a majority of legislators in twenty-six states while the Republicans have twenty-one states. The remaining tree states – Arizona, Kansas and Mississippi – are equally split.Note New York has 31 electoral votes and New Jersey has 15 votes — a significant chunk in denying a majority of 270 electoral votes.Under this scenario, in a tie, the Democrats or Republicans would have cut their losses and cut a deal with the third party candidate — rather than bring their opponents into power.
A President Paul or President Bloomberg may be precisely what citizens want: a break with the monopoly of power that has produced such cynicism and cronyism in Washington. From a constitutional standpoint, it would be something to behold.