Despite ‘Centrist Independent’ bid, Howard Schultz a longtime Democratic donor

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Howard Schultz (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who announced he is a preparing a presidential bid Sunday, has a long history as a Democratic political donor.

Schultz wrote on Twitter that he is considering running as a “centrist independent candidate”:

Schultz, whose projected net worth is $3.4 billion, and his wife Sherri, have contributed around $193,000 combined to Democratic candidates and organizations since the early 1990s. The bulk of those donations, $116,200 since 1996, went to the Democratic National Committee.

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the original home and headquarters of Starbucks, were the two highest candidate recipients of Schultz’s campaign cash in his limited history as a donor.

Cantwell has received $14,850 from Schultz and his wife since 2000, with Murray receiving $7,800 since 1997.

During the 2018 midterm election, when rumors of a possible presidential bid first emerged, Schultz all but halted campaign contributions save for one donation.

The billionaire gave $50,000 to the With Honor Fund, a super PAC bankrolled primarily by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his family to elect Democratic and Republican congressional candidates who served in the military.

The donation to the With Honor Fund would appear to be a departure from Schultz’s history as a consistently Democratic donor and towards a more centrist line. In the 2018 midterm, the With Honor fund supported the campaigns of conservative candidates such as Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw as well as more liberal candidates like unsuccessful Kentucky congressional hopeful Amy McGrath.

Other notable contributions by Schultz include multiple contributions to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards during the 2008 Democratic primary, and a $1000 donation to John McCain in 1999.

Though Schultz called himself a “lifelong Democrat” in a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, some Democrats have already spoken out against a possible bid, saying that an independent candidate would split Democratic votes and ensure President Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020.

Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, tweeted she would boycott Starbucks to prevent money from going to “the election coffers of a guy who will help Trump win.”

The Democratic Party of Washington tweeted its own message to Schultz: 

President Trump attacked Schultz on Twitter, saying the CEO “doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to run for President!”

Should he enter the race, Schultz would join former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg as a former campaign financier turned potential politician.

Bloomberg, who is considering a presidential bid on the Democratic ticket, without mentioning Schultz by name said in a statement that “there is no way an independent can win… We must remain united, and we must not allow any candidate to divide or fracture us.”

 

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