Voters in Virginia just might get a chance to vote for a Michael Bloomberg/Ron Paul ticket. Sam Stein reports that the Independent Green Party of Virginia collected enough signatures to get this ticket on the ballot without the knowledge of the potential candidates. A representative of the state board of elections did state that they would not be placed on the ballot if they request to have their names taken off.
Ron Paul is quirky enough that I wouldn’t attempt to guess what he will do, but I doubt he would have any interest in this. I certainly don’t see Michael Bloomberg keeping his name on the ballot. If he was really interested in an independent run he would have no chance of winning this year but he could do respectable by third party standards. I can’t see any reason why he’d allow his name to be on a ballot without actively trying and wind up with a negligible number of votes.
If they should remain on the ballot it is difficult to be certain how it would impact the election this year when Virginia is actually in play. Ron Paul has more fanatic supporters who might vote even if neither is campaigning. The conventional wisdom is that Ron Paul would take more votes from a Republican, but it is also possible that a Bloomberg/Paul ticket could take anti-war votes away from Obama and help McCain.
It is unlikely a third party candidate would win under any situation, but it is even less likely Bloomberg could win against Obama and McCain due to their support form independents. Earlier in the year when a Bloomberg candidacy was being discussed I suggested that his best chance would be if John Edwards won the Democratic nomination and Mike Huckabee won the Republican nomination. With a candidate as weak as Edwards there would be an outside chance of Bloomberg moving ahead of Edwards and then create a coalition including Democrats and country club Republicans who would find Bloomberg preferable to Huckabee. Considering how things turned out, this scenario of Bloomberg becoming the de facto Democratic candidate looks even more plausible today if Edwards had somehow won the nomination. (Of course this was never really plausible as the same weaknesses which would prevent Edwards from being competitive in a general election campaign would also prevent him from becoming the nominee.)