Republican-turned-independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, San Diego’s Republican-turned-independent mayoral candidate.
Bloomberg called Fletcher a “strong, independent” leader who demonstrated in the assembly that he was willing to work with leaders of both political parties to find solutions.
“Nathan will fight the status quo and make decisions based on the merits and not political consequences,” Bloomberg wrote in a statement distributed by the Fletcher campaign. “I look forward to working with Nathan and other courageous elected officials who share my belief that there is an alternative to partisan gridlock.”
The endorsement comes five days before the mayoral primary, with Fletcher needing to be one of the top two vote-getters to advance to a November runoff.
Just days before the election, Bloomberg’s endorsement burnishes Fletcher’s self-styled image of a solutions-oriented candidate who was forced to leave the Republican Party by a political climate with no room for voices of moderation.
Bloomberg himself cited many of the same issues when he left the GOP.
Fletcher’s support surged following the announcement in March, though he trailed Republican Carl DeMaio and Democrat Bob Filner in a SurveyUSA poll released Thursday morning. DeMaio had 31 percent support of respondents, with Filner at 28 percent and Fletcher at 23 percent. It had a 4.3 percent sampling error.
Earlier in the week, Fletcher secured a favorable “observation” on his qualifications as mayor from Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who said he “stood out from the pack.”
John Dadian, a Republican political consultant not working on any of the mayoral campaigns, said the Bloomberg endorsement was significant because it had the potential to change voters’ opinions.
“People who support Brown probably already liked Fletcher,” he said. “They could milk Bloomberg for all it’s worth, saying he had the same frustrations Nathan had, and he’s a pretty successful mayor.”
It doesn’t help that 20 percent of voters have already cast their ballot through absentee voting, however.
Commonly speculated as a 2016 presidential candidate, Bloomberg has been hesitant to relinquish his endorsement in the current presidential race, as Fletcher’s campaign quickly pointed out. The New York Times last month reported that both President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney have both actively sought Bloomberg’s blessing, but he’s yet to make a decision.
Bloomberg was already in national news this week due to a proposed ban in New York City of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.