How many billionaires does turn a third party into a contender? At least two, according to the Post, which says that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and upstate businessman Tom Golisano are working to "revamp the state Independence Party as an 'issues oriented' group focusing on government reform."
Issues would include state government transparency and responsible budgets. Golisano adviser Steve Pigeon said, "They want to combine their resources," words which might strike fear in others, given that their combined net worth is upwards of $15 billion (Bloomberg's fortune is rumored to be between $15-20 billion, Golisano's is around $1.7 billion, but that's all pre-Wall Street fallout).
Observers tell the Post there are a number of advantages to Bloomberg teaming up with Golisano: First, it keeps him from meddling in this fall's mayoral election (Golisano was helping efforts to keep term limits at two). Second, "the mayor's new joint effort with Golisano could help crowd out the faction controlled by Lenora Fulani, who runs the city party and has said the mayor will have an uphill climb getting the line." Bloomberg has gotten flak for supporting the city's Independence Party—and implicitly Fulani, who made anti-Semitic remarks. Pigeon claims the partnering isn't related to the 2009 mayoral election.
Mayor Bloomberg, a former Democrat and a former Republican, is officially an independent, while Golisano is a Republican who has donated generously to the Democrats—as well as run for Governor twice as an independent—and both have put money into third parties.