New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has set a cat among pigeons by his decision to change his political affiliation from Republican to independent.
This has fuelled speculation which has been simmering for a long time now of his intention to make a third-party run for the White House in 2008.
Bloomberg, who founded the Bloomberg LP financial news service, is estimated to be worth more than billion, which should easily suffice for a US Presidential war-chest.
While the New York mayor has so far not divulged his plans, his statement on changing his party affiliation is eloquent: 'I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven't changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our City.
'Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there's no limit to what we can do.'
Last year, he told the media he had no reason to change his party, after six years spent as a Republican. He had switched over from Democrat in 2001 to accept the Republican offer of NYC's mayorship.
Analysts feel the time is ripe, with both the Democrats and Republicans not enjoying tremendous ratings. There is widespread concern, even anger, among Americans over their nation's leadership of international affairs. An apolitical candidate, it is felt, may draw voters.
It has happened in the past. In 1990 Texas magnate Ross Perot skimmed off 19 percent of the popular vote, as Bill Clinton romped home against Republican President George H W Bush. Eight years later, Ralph Nader ate into the votes of the two mainstream parties.
Will Bloomberg go the same way, ie, play the spoiler, or will he be able to rally Americans and make history?
While the mayor is not telling, his travel itinerary is more revealing. Bloomberg has of late been travelling out of New York extensively, and has been articulating on national issues. Plus, it is well known that he is a misfit in Republican politics with his support for gay union, abortion rights, greater gun control etc.
So, is he waiting for the right time to make his move a skill he must have honed in his years spent in corporate boardrooms?