2020 Democrats – The Celebrities

Some time back a dear friend of mine introduced me to a group of people as an op-ed writer. I assume to be polite; one of them asked me what I wrote about. I replied that I wrote political op-eds therefore my job was to piss off between one-third and half the people every day. I was simultaneously practicing self-effacing humor and facing reality. Today I start the “meat and potatoes” of this series and I think the meter will be well over one-third. Here we go.

Today I want to look at a group of six possible 2020 Democratic contenders that have high name recognition and in all but one case absolutely no political experience. Unlike Trump, the majority are of high character. Several of them are actually very wealthy. Unlike Trump they don’t have to lie about their wealth. They all have very high name recognition which is a major asset in politics. They are: Michael Avenatti, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz, Tom Steyer and Oprah Winfrey.

I feel Avenatti’s political ship has already sailed, (assuming it ever existed). While I admire his chutzpah he is too much of a self-promoter for my tastes. I’m sure some of it is a well-orchestrated lie campaign to discredit him, but too many negatives have been coming out about him in recent weeks and I don’t see it stopping. At this point I doubt he will run. If he does I don’t see major donors flocking to him nor do I see a lot of primary voters backing him.

Bloomberg is the only person in this group with political experience. He is the former mayor of New York City. Bloomberg is extremely wealthy and could to a large extent self-finance. He is also not a die in the wool Democrat. That won’t play well with the Democratic establishment, but it will could play well with younger voters who distain Party labels. I have no idea if he will actually enter the race or not. My guess is that he will try to use his influence on the platform of a major candidate and offer them financial backing.

Going down the alphabet, that brings me to Mark Cuban. Let’s just say I wouldn’t hitch my wagon to Cuban and I don’t think the Democrats will either. He is the kind of person you take contributions from and then just politely listen to what he has to say while mostly thinking about something that is actually important.

Howard Schultz is the only one on today’s list that I have ever had “personal contact” with. In his last days as Starbucks’ CEO I wrote a letter to him. In full disclosure I am a long time customer and fan of Starbucks and I wrote about the conditions of one of their stores in metro Raleigh. To his credit he had the applicable District Manager call me to follow up. Obviously he has something Trump doesn’t have: management skills. Running a chain of coffee shops and running the federal government are two very different things. Schultz is a multi-billionaire but without incredible sacrifice could not self-finance. There is a very good chance he will throw his hat into the ring since he has already retained veteran former Republican operative Steve Schmidt. In the long run I thing Schultz can serve the cause best as a funder.

Now to the very interesting case of Tom Steyer: Like Schultz, Steyer is not wealthy enough to comfortably self-finance. However he has already shown that he is willing to spend significant money on policy causes he believes in and he has been effective in doing so. It’s sometimes difficult to get a read but I feel Steyer feels a calling to run for something high profile at some point in the near future. Living in California he would get caught in a traffic jam of high profile Democrats if he ever ran for the Senate plus the opportunities are very limited. Diane Feinstein just got reelected to a six year term and Kamala Harris is a young political superstar who appears to be in her seat for decades unless she successfully runs for the presidency. There is a good chance there won’t be an open California Senate seat until 2024 when I assume Feinstein will chose to retire. Gavin Newsom was just elected to his first term a California’s Governor. If Steyer can’t quell the itch to run this might be his last good opportunity. Should Steyer run I don’t see him winning the nomination but he could stay in the race for some time. His views and what I assume would be his platform is attractive to progressives and younger voters.

Oprah Winfrey is the most interesting and challenging of the six! She is a true self-made billionaire. She is incredibly popular and that is especially true among black women. No Democrat can win the presidency without the support and votes of black women! While I may be somewhat dismissive of this group of six as celebrity candidates, Oprah has to be taken seriously and treated with respect. Fortunately I feel Winfrey will save the Democrats from a dilemma by not running. She has said as much during her recent trip to Georgia to help Stacey Abrams. For a Democrat to win in 2020 they will need her endorsement, it entails a ton of volunteers and votes.

Six down and only 24 to go.

Please note: This article was written well in advance of publishing in order to accommodate my holiday travel and grandpa time schedule.

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