AUSTIN, TEXAS — New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg met Friday with the ballot access expert and campaign manager for H. Ross Perot's third-party presidential bid, a sign of the multibillionaire's seriousness about a possible independent run for president.
Bloomberg met privately with Clay Mulford, who is well-versed in third-party ballot access, and served as campaign manager for Perot, who sought the presidency in 1992 and 1996, according to an individual close to the mayor. The meeting with Mulford comes less than two months before Bloomberg would be able to start gathering signatures to have his name placed on the ballot and meet Texas' early deadline.
If Bloomberg wants a chance at winning the state's 34 electoral votes, he would need to collect about 74,100 signatures by May 12, and he could begin circulating petitions until March 5. Not only does he have a short window to petition, but the signatures need to be from Texas residents who did not vote in a party primary.
Earlier Friday, during a news conference, Bloomberg was asked about the significance of being in Texas. He seemed irritated with the question. "I just said, 'I'm not a candidate' -- it couldn't be clearer," he said. "Which of the words do you not understand? People have urged me to do it, but I'm not a candidate."
Despite Bloomberg's public denials, aides have said he would delay a decision until the major parties produce clear front-runners.