Advisers to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have been exploring the possibility of launching an independent bid for the White House in 2020, according to two people who have been informed of the discussions.
The entry of a high-profile billionaire Democrat outside the traditional party structure would add an unpredictable dynamic to the increasingly sprawling campaign to deny President Donald Trump a second term.
Trump’s opponents, including many Democratic strategists, have expressed concerns that a serious three-way race in November would divide the Democratic vote in a way that helps Trump win reelection, either directly by denying Democrats states they would otherwise have won or by shifting the ultimate decision to the U.S. House.
Former Ohio governor John Kasich, a 2016 Republican candidate for president, is also looking at the possibility of running as an independent candidate. Neither Kasich nor Schultz have settled on a decision.
“Anyone thinking of running for president as an independent would have to think really hard about splitting the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote, and just playing the spoiler role and reelecting Trump,” said Howard Wolfson, a former strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He now advises former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is considering his own presidential campaign, as a Democrat.
Schultz, who has a net worth of about $3.3 billion and describes himself as a “lifelong Democrat,” has not said publicly whether he will mount a presidential campaign and has kept open the option of running as a Democrat. He will begin a national book tour Jan. 28 for a memoir that describes his personal journey “to reimagine the promise of America.”
Schultz’s personal office did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Michael Scherer