The average Joe may sometimes like his coffee black, but it’s never strictly red or blue.
Starbucks has built itself into a global coffee giant with a bipartisan customer base. But as founder Howard Schultz settles into life away from daily involvement in the Seattle-based company, a new report from Politico assesses the danger of a potential Democratic bid for the presidency in 2020.
While he has said he is looking forward to spending time with family and working on a book, and is not interested in seeking office, Schultz allowed for a range of future options in his goodbye letter to employees in June. And in conversations with former Starbucks executives, equities analysts and others with ties to Schultz, Politico stirred the pot on the downside of any political aspirations.
“A presidential campaign would tie Starbucks to electoral politics in the public eye at a time when consumers increasingly view the world through partisan prisms,” Politico wrote. “That would pose a risk for any mass consumer brand, according to financial analysts who track the company.”
Citing an anonymous source familiar with the thinking of Starbucks’ current leadership, Politico reported that the desire is for Schultz not to run. “It’s a huge headache,” the source said.
With a commitment to social issues that he ingrained in the company during his more than 20 years as CEO, Schultz has long been a corporate leader viewed as a potential political one. But even those close to him gave Politico mixed messages on the matter.
Former Starbucks President Howard Behar, a longtime Schultz confidant, told Politico that he told Schultz he’d be putting a lot at risk and “better really understand what you’re getting into.” But he also said Schultz would be a great president. “He’s smart. He’s pragmatic. He’s not off the deep end.”
Read the full Politico report here.