Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz formally announced Friday he will not run for president, ending his speculative independent bid for the White House before it even got started. In a letter to supporters, Schultz, who had prepped for a national campaign hiring former McCain and Obama operatives, said his message of moderation and civility were drowned out by extremes on both sides and his prospects further trampled by the two-party system. Schultz took swipes at the left wing of the Democratic Party on the way out, but wrote his concern that his candidacy could pave the way for another Trump term ruled the day. “[N]ot enough people today are willing to consider backing an independent candidate because they fear doing so might lead to re-electing a uniquely dangerous incumbent president,” he wrote.
Schultz, as an independent, would have had to collect signatures to get on the ballot in each state, which, he says, presented him with a dilemma as a potential third party candidate. “Unfortunately, election rules in each state and the way this Democratic nomination process has unfolded pose another challenge: It has become more likely that the Democratic nominee will not be known before the deadlines to submit the required number of signatures for an independent to get on the ballot,” he wrote. “If I went forward, there is a risk that my name would appear on ballots even if a moderate Democrat wins the nomination, and that is not a risk I am willing to take.”
Schultz announced he was mulling a run earlier this year touting an “exhausted majority” that was tired of the growing polarity of both parties. “Eighty-four percent of Americans do not consider themselves far right or far left,” he wrote. “Statistically and anecdotally, there is an undeniable appetite for meaningful political reform in America. I had hoped to represent this common-sense view…” In June, however, Schultz took his foot off the gas, announcing he would take the summer off from campaigning to recover from back surgery.
What little momentum the billionaire’s candidacy did have evaporated as the Democratic debates kicked into gear. Ultimately, a Schultz candidacy didn’t have an animating force, other than the lament that politics is nasty and it would be nice if it weren’t. The former Starbucks man also faced a Biden problem, where the former vice president was more or less running on the same good old days message.