The 2020 presidential election might feel far away, but the field of candidates is already getting crowded. On the Democratic side, the candidates include Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand, with others expected to join the race. Now, even Howard Schultz, the former CEO and founder of Starbucks, might enter the ring.
In a January 27th 60 Minutes interview, Schultz said he is “seriously thinking of running for president.” The businessman, who left his position at Starbucks in June 2018, told interviewer Scott Pelley that he would campaign as a “centrist independent.” Although he described himself as a “lifelong Democrat,” Schultz said “both parties are consistently not doing what’s best for the American people.”
Many Democrats are concerned that if Schultz runs, he could take votes away from the Democratic candidate, allowing Trump to win a second term. In a statement provided to the Seattle Times on January 19th, Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, cautioned Schultz: “Just. Don’t.” And Julián Castro, a Democratic candidate for president and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he worried Schultz’s potential campaign would “provide Donald Trump with his best hope of getting re-elected.”
Others expressed their concerns on Twitter.
Schultz has a long track record of speaking out on social issues. In 2017, he condemned President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban Muslim refugees by committing to hiring 10,000 refugees over the course of five years. The New York Times notes that he has asked customers not to carry firearms and applauded the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. On 60 Minutes, Schultz expressed support for immigration and argued that Trump was wrong to leave the Paris Climate Accord. He also said he would have been “more modest” with corporate tax cuts than Trump and would have given greater tax cuts to the poor. However, he has asserted that the U.S. cannot afford healthcare for all.
The Starbucks founder also told Pelley that his own childhood influenced his politics. He noted that he grew up in a public housing project in Brooklyn and that his family was low-income, as well as the fact that he was physically abused by his father. Pelley noted that now, Schultz’s net worth is close to $3.5 billion—more than Trump’s reported net worth.
Only time will tell how this one unfolds.