Meadville Tribune

Lifestyles

February 25, 2014

Ralph Nader's list of 20 people he thinks should consider a run for president

— It's no secret that Ralph Nader has always been a big fan of the idea of third-party presidential candidates. Nader - one of the best-known third-party candidates in recent American electoral history - released a list of 20 multi-millionaires and billionaires who he thinks should give real thought to mounting a presidential bid in 2016.

But would any of them really do it? And should they?

According to an October 2013 Gallup poll, six in 10 Americans believe a third major political party is needed - the highest level of support for a third party since the polling firm began tracking disillusionment with the two major parties. However, that sentiment has yet to transfer to the ballot box. While Gallup polling has consistently showed that roughly half of Americans support the idea of a third party, no non-major party candidate has cracked 20 percent of the national popular vote in a presidential race since Theodore Roosevelt did it in 1912.

So, who does Nader want to throw themselves into the breach? Here's our breakdown of his list.

Marc Andreessen

Why he could: An early Barack Obama backer in 2008, this venture capitalist is seen as an Internet pioneer. He invented Mosaic - the first widely-used web browser - and currently sits on the boards of Facebook, Ebay and several other major Internet companies. In 2012, he endorsed Romney, throwing more than $100,000 toward the Republican's election campaign by way of a super PAC donation.

Why he probably won't: While he's been outspoken during each of the last two presidential elections, Andreessen hasn't done anything to signal that he'd be willing to leave Silicon Valley and head to the nation's capital.

John Arnold

Why he could: This former hedge fund manager has been philanthropically active, donating hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to various causes. The Laura and John Foundation, which he co-founded with his wife, focuses primarily on criminal justice, education, and public accountability. As a hedge fund manager, Arnold's specialty was natural gas, so it's not crazy to imagine Arnold mounting a campaign built around the concepts of energy independence.

Why he probably won't: Last year, during the government shut down, Arnold and his wife gave $10 million to keep Head Start programs for low income children running while government funds were cut off. Were he looking to segue into the political realm, this would have been the perfect opportunity. Instead, Arnold dodged the spotlight for his major gift.

Steve Case

Why he could: The co-founder and former CEO and chairman of America Online, Case has been one of the most politically active and vocal proponents in the tech community for economic policies that spur innovative job growth. He currently serves on several Presidential committees, including the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. And his family isn't a stranger to politics - a cousin, Ed Case, served as a congressman from Hawaii from 2002 to 2007.

Why he probably won't: Compared to some of the others, Case has one of the most bipartisan donation records among Nader's list. In 2012, he directed campaign cash to high-profile Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, as well as high-profile Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. With his money spread around like that, it's likely both parties' establishment folks would work hard to talk him out of an independent run.

Chase Coleman

Why he could: The world's most profitable hedge fund manager in 2011, the 38-year-old billionaire was declared "the hottest young money manager on the planet" by Forbes last year. Though yet to develop a reputation for being outwardly political, Coleman did serve for six years as co-chairman of the Tiger Foundation, an organization that aims to end poverty in New York City, and has donated money to both the Republican Senatorial Committee and to Mitt Romney during previous election cycles.

Why he probably won't: Honestly, while it's an argument that could be made for any of these folks, Coleman doesn't have much to gain from a presidential run (besides, the whole "becoming president" thing). He's the direct descendant of Peter Stuyvestant - New York's last Dutch governor and, as New York magazine describes him, "the guy who actually built the wall that Wall Street is named for." He's old money, and has the added bonus of having found his niche in the hedge fund world where he's earned millions of his own. Why give up that life for a miserable life in partisan politics?

William Conway

Why he could: Conway has committed to giving away $1 billion toward programs to spur job growth - so it might makes sense that he would see the Oval Office as a way toward being able to further influence the economy.

Why he probably won't: While a billionaire, Conway's political donations are relatively sparse. In recent years, he's handed out money to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) as well as a handful of super PACs. Those donations of a few hundred or few thousand dollars are nothing compared to his recent philanthropic efforts. When he's writing checks, it seems they are most often going toward job creation - and less often toward politics.

Ray Dalio

Why he could: Labeled by some as the "Steve Jobs of investing," Dalio would have a strong economic record to run on. In fact, he predicted the global economic crisis. One of America's richest men, Dalio certainly could afford the financial investment that would be required by an independent presidential run.

Why he probably won't: Dalio doesn't seek the limelight, even in financial circles, the way many of the other names on this list do. He's known as an outdoorsman who spends his free time big game hunting in Africa. Not exactly, the kind of vacation that the partisan environment would let a U.S. president get away with.

Barry Diller

Why he could run: A well-regarded media executive, Diller helped spur the creation of the FOX Broadcasting Co. as well as USA Broadcasting and has been outspoken critic of media monopolies. A lifelong Democrat, he has been known to open up his checkbook for like-minded candidates in the past and has been described as a bit of a kingmaker in the television industry.

Why he probably won't: While he has been an active donor in Democratic circles, Diller has not spent nearly the same amount of time or money as many of the others on the list rubbing elbows in political circles. It's unclear if he'd have the political clout to make presidential waves, even if he wanted to.

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