Michael R. Bloomberg, a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor of New York City in 2001, announced this evening that he is changing his party status and registering as an independent. His office released this statement:
I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.
A nonpartisan approach has worked wonders in New York: we’ve balanced budgets, grown our economy, improved public health, reformed the school system and made the nation’s safest city even safer.
We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face.
Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there’s no limit to what we can do.
Mr. Bloomberg’s decision — the first change in party affiliation by a sitting New York City mayor since 1971, when John V. Lindsay switched from Republican to Democrat — immediately set off intense speculation that he will enter the 2008 presidential race as an independent.
Mr. Bloomberg, 65, a billionaire businessman, narrowly beat a Democrat, Mark Green, in his first run for elected office, in 2001. He was re-elected by a wide margin in 2005.