Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz formally abandoned his pursuit of an independent campaign for president Friday, telling his supporters in a letter that he found it tougher than he expected to capture the attention of moderate voters and that he didn’t want to risk reelecting President Trump.
Schultz’s decision, after spending months away from public life because of health issues, will come as a relief to Democratic leaders, who feared an independent candidacy by a self-funded billionaire would hobble their eventual nominee. Despite growing frustration with the country’s politics, his aborted run serves as a cautionary tale about the resiliency of the country’s two-party political system.
In a three-page letter to supporters Schultz outlined his reasons for abandoning his presidential bid and sketched his plans for the future. Moderate voters, who he had hoped would have been his constituency, “has largely tuned out of political life,” he wrote, and many other potential supporters would not back him because of their concern that he would aide Trump’s reelection.
The calendar also worked against his ambitions, complicating Schultz’s commitment to withdraw his candidacy before a general election if a centrist like former vice president Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination.
“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,” he wrote.
Schultz, 66, burst on the political scene in January, when he announced on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he was considering an independent campaign, days after the news broke that his advisers were exploring the possibility of a third-party run.