Bloomberg is Leaving the Republican Party

This post, written by Sewell Chan, originally appeared on The New York Times' blog

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.

Mr. Bloomberg maintained that "my plans for the future haven't changed," but his 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.

The mayor is scheduled to give a speech tonight in Century City, Calif., accompanied by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Mr. Bloomberg a socially liberal Republican, and Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, a Democrat. The mayor's office released this statement at 6:05 p.m. (EST):
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.

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