Former Starbucks CEO Running in 2020


Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz, speaks during the 2015 Starbucks shareholders meeting. Courtesy of New York Post

Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, speaks during the 2015 Starbucks shareholders meeting.
Courtesy of New York Post
By Rachel Stevens

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that he would consider running as an independent candidate for president of the United States in 2020.

“I am seriously thinking of running for president,” Schultz told journalist Scott Pelley during a pre-taped interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.

Schultz is an American businessman from New York. He was CEO of Starbucks from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017, as well as its executive chair from 2017 to 2018. He is a former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics, and was a member of the Board of Directors at Square, Inc. He has a history of aligning with liberal policies and positions. While Schultz hasn’t officially announced his political intentions for 2020, many are already threatening to boycott Starbucks.

Many are surprised that he is not considering running as a Democrat. Schultz, in his own words, wants to avoid subscribing to either the Republican and Democratic party to avoid the “toxicity” that comes along with that. Though Schultz characterized himself as “a lifelong Democrat,” he criticized both major political parties saying that they have failed to meet the needs of the American people.

Schultz is facing criticism from both sides of the aisle urging him to reconsider these 2020 plans. It is safe to say that his announcement was not well received. Some are wondering if Schultz made an error in announcing his potential candidacy too early in the election cycle. From the Democrats, they see that he could, as an independent, just split the anti-Trump vote and end up re-electing the president.

“DNC and RNC do everything humanly possible to prevent an independent person from running,” Schultz said. “That is un-American. That’s not right.”

In a talk he gave recently at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco promoting his book From The Ground Up, he gave a taste of what a Schultz presidency might look like in terms of policy. He touched on hot button issues in today’s political climate such as health care, immigration, climate change, and trade and foreign policy.  While he recognizes that he, too, would have to deal with a divided Congress, Schultz believes he might have a better chance of influencing change as an Independent, given the current polarization of the two parties.

It will be interesting to see whether Schultz follows through with running, despite the backlash he’s received. Further, Starbucks may be worried about its sales decreasing as a survey of 1,000 Americans shows that 53% of respondents said they’d no longer shop at their favorite retailer if it publicly supported a person or cause they strongly disagreed with. Will people begin to boycott Starbucks because of Schultz’s announcement? The findings seem to indicate that more Americans are becoming emboldened when it comes to organizations that do not reflect their own values.

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