Howard Schultz, former Starbucks chief, won’t run for president in 2020

Caleb Walsh illustration
By Matt Stevens
The New York Times Company

Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks who took steps earlier this year to prepare to run for president as an independent, announced Friday that he was abandoning those plans.

In a letter to supporters, Schultz said he had concluded that an independent bid would pose too great a risk of helping President Donald Trump win a second term.

“Not enough people today are willing to consider backing an independent candidate because they fear doing so might lead to reelecting a uniquely dangerous incumbent president,” Schultz wrote.

Schultz, 66, said he did not want to interfere in 2020 should Democrats select a more moderate nominee. He criticized the party’s more progressive candidates, writing, “I’m also concerned that far-left policy ideas being advanced by several Democratic candidates will further alienate voters who believe those ideas will inflict more economic harm than good.”

The announcement caps 15 months of speculation about Schultz’s intentions. During that span, the Democratic primary field ballooned to as many as 24 candidates and has since shrunk back down to 20. There have been two rounds of nationally televised Democratic debates, with a third debate scheduled for next week.

One of the Democrats in the race, Tom Steyer, is a billionaire like Schultz. Despite spending millions of dollars of his own money on advertising, he failed to qualify for next week’s debate because of low support in polls.

In June 2018, Schultz announced he would leave Starbucks after more than three decades leading the company, immediately stoking speculation about a 2020 run. He did little to bat away the possibility at the time, saying he was “deeply concerned” about the country.

Seven months later, in January, Schultz said he planned to travel across the country as part of a book tour, and that he had begun the work required to get on the ballot in all 50 states. He said that if did he decide to run, he would do so as an independent, arguing that moderate Republicans and Democrats alike were “looking for a home.”

His move toward a run instantly drew criticism from both high-profile Democrats and Trump.

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