CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched his very own super PAC in an unprecedented, last-ditch effort to try to influence 2012 races across the country.
Over the next three weeks, the mayor will spend a whopping "eight figure" sum to try to elect candidates who share his views on guns, education and gay marriage — and punish those who don't, according to an announcement posted on his website Wednesday.
Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson will temporarily be stepping down from his post to lead the effort.
"It's critically important that we have elected officials in Washington, Albany, and around the nation who are willing to work across party lines to achieve real results," Bloomberg said in a statement announcing the effort, which marks his most ambitious foray into political spending yet.
The effort also seeks to reward "moderates on both sides of the aisle — as well as independents" who have shown a willingness to work across the aisle.
"I’ve always believed in the need for more independent leadership, and this new effort will support candidates and causes that will help protect Americans from the scourge of gun violence, improve our schools, and advance our freedoms," Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent, said.
Among the candidates he intends to support are Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who is fighting to keep his seat, Missouri's Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, and independent Maine Senate candidate Angus King.
Wolfson said the cash is an extension of what Bloomberg has already tried to do.
"The mayor has always stepped forward to back candidates that are willing to cast aside party politics, and candidates who are willing to stand up to special interests to make the right decisions for the people they represent,” he said.
Bloomberg, who at one point considered a third-party presidential run, appears to have grown increasingly frustrated with Washington, castigating both Republicans and Democrats whenever he gets the chance.
Earlier Wednesday, he slammed both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney for their responses to a question about gun control during Tuesday night's debate.
"I think what we did got was a perfect example of obfuscation, and very little honesty," Bloomberg said. "One candidate's had four years to do something and hasn't and the other candidate says he won't even do what he once did."
He was especially tough on the president's "gibberish" argument that education could help quell gun violence.
"Anybody that thinks that you can get those kids who are on the street in gangs with guns back into schools and reform them is just so far away from the real world, I don't know how you even have a dialogue with them," he said.