Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced Friday morning he is officially abandoning his exploration of an independent presidential campaign, but the billionaire said he plans to spend significant funds to “transform our broken system.”
Schultz, in a letter posted to howardschultz.com, cited general voter apathy, institutional roadblocks to an independent candidacy and back woes among the reasons for not seeking the presidency.
"My belief in the need to reform our two-party system has not wavered, but I have concluded that an independent campaign for the White House is not how I can best serve our country at this time," Schultz wrote. "I will spend this election cycle and the years ahead supporting bold and creative initiatives to transform our broken system and address the disparity of opportunity that plagues our nation."
The 66-year-old's intended center-left candidacy was seen as a possible impediment to whoever wins the Democratic nomination for president and was particularly threatening to the more moderate candidates – such as front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden – who are running, something Schultz acknowledged as he bowed out.
"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," Schultz wrote.
Though not citing a specific figure, Schultz said he planned to use "the money that I was prepared to commit to a presidential campaign" to further his policy goals, investing in "people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics, and that move the country beyond two-party gridlock." The former head of the coffee mega-chain had previously said he planned to spend more than $100 million on a White House bid, so his monetary contribution in the 2020 race is likely to be sizeable.
Schultz said in January he was exploring a possible presidential run. However, he put those plans on hold in June amid reported staffing cuts and said at the time he would revisit his decision after Labor Day.
If he had run, Schultz would have followed in the footsteps of President Trump, another billionaire non-politician, though his successful effort came inside the tent of one of the two major parties.