East Regional Sweet Sixteen Matchup: Bloomberg vs. Chaffee.
#1 seed: Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Born: February 14, 1942 (age 71) — Boston, Massachusetts.
Background: Bloomberg began his business career on Wall Street at the securities brokerage Salomon Brothers, before founding the eponymous Bloomberg Inc. in 1981, serving as the company’s Chairman and CEO until his election as NYC Mayor in 2001 as a newly minted Republican.
Former Party: Democrat (before 2001). Republican (2001-2007).
Strength: Personal wealth and business experience. Bloomberg’s business acumen is a obviously strong suit, and his vast personal wealth ($27 billion — making him the 7th richest individual in the United States) allowed him to go the independent route in his 2009 re-election campaign, without the support of the NYC Republican party.
Weakness: Heavy handed policy experimentation. While the public health benefits of Bloomberg’s recent “Soda Ban” were obvious, it may have been too heavy handed of an attempt to curtail soda consumption in New York City. Pundits around the country cried “nanny state!”, and recently the law was struck down by the NY State Supreme Court. Next up for the Mayor, hiding cigarettes!
#4 seed: Governor Lincoln Chafee (I-RI)
Born: March 26, 1953 (age 59) — Providence, Rhode Island.
Background: Other than a brief stint in Montana as a horse shoe-er, Chafee is a “career politician”, serving as a City Councilmember (1986-1992) and Mayor (1992-1999) of Warwick, RI, a one term US Senator (1999-2006), and the current Governor of Rhode Island (2011-present).
Former Party: Chaffee was a moderate Republican until 2007, and after barely surviving a primary challenge from far-right Mayor of Cranston Steve Laffey in 2006, Chaffee decided to leave the Republican Party and become an independent.
Strength: Fiscal conservatism but social moderation. Chafee’s positions on social issues give him wide appeal across the spectrum of ideologies that appeal to different types of independent voters. Even as a Republican Senator, he was pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and relatively environmentally friendly (the only Republican Senator to vote against authorizing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).
Weakness: Current popularity. According to a February 2013 poll from Brown University, Chafee’s current approval rating is only 26% — almost as bad as Congress! Two of his presumed 2014 reelection opponents, Democrats Angel Taveras and Gina Raimondo have approval ratings of 64% and 56% respectively, both more than double Chafee’s current approval.
Who’s your pick? Remember to cast your vote on the Independent Voters of America Facebook Page! And check back throughout the rest of March for more IVA Madness breakdowns.