Commentary: Democrats should not fear competition

I write on the day when another well-known Democrat, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, announced his intention to run for president. That makes a load, with another group poised to join the fray. Most candidates have not expressed fear of one another, yet Democrat party officials and activists have undertaken a vicious campaign to prevent former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz from running for president as an Independent. Why the venom?

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff

As a nine-time Independent candidate for president, I take offense to anyone who would try to dissuade someone from running for president.

In my case, I do it partly as a teaching device, showing students what paperwork is involved in filing to run. Look me up at the Federal Election Commission, along with 240 other current candidates already declared for 2020. Do you think we Independent, third party, no-name, and no-chance candidates are cowering at the prospect of a coffee CEO coming in?

Democrats who delivered the cutting criticism of Schultz’s intention to run for president cited his possible spoiler role in facilitating reelection of President Trump.

First, that premise begins from a defensive position, hardly one which inspires confidence. Second, blaming Ralph Nadar for Democrats losing the 2000 presidential election is not only unfair, but ignores the reverse: in at least four presidential elections in the 20th century, a Democrat was elected in a multi-candidate field involving a third party — 1912, 1948, 1960 and 1992.

In his comments, Schultz indicated that he would follow a moderate path. Perhaps that is the meat that the dirty Democrats smelled in gang-tackling his dream. Back in the day, the Democratic party was not only tolerant of divergent ideological views, but embraced same.

Currently, their liberal tint is understandable but any move toward extremism on the left will not wash in the general election. If the brakes aren’t applied within the party, they could be by a significant Independent candidate.

Democratic leaders constantly complain about being outspent by Republican or Independent challengers. Yet Democrats outspent Republicans overall as recent as the 2016 election cycle.

Now we read that Patrick McHugh’s Priorities USA group, which spent $200 million in support of Democrats in 2016, has threatened to do everything it can to derail a Schultz candidacy. If Mr. Schultz, or Mike Bloomberg for that matter, both billionaires, decide to enter the race and open their respective treasure chests, Democrats and Republicans alike will have a difficult time keeping up.

It is disappointing that national Democratic leaders apparently lack the ability to promote a winning message to recapture the presidency. Given Donald Trump’s too-many-bumps-at-the-hump performance, they should be driving home the utter incompetence of the administration instead of making a spectacle of their disdain for a Schultz run.

There is every reason to believe that the eventual Democratic nominee for president will be competitive in the 2020 election. So my advice is to keep eyes on target. He is in the White House, not at Starbucks.

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff is George Washington Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science and Law Studies Director at Delaware State University. A registered Independent presidential candidate with the FEC, his campaign slogan is, “For Times O’Plenty, Vote Hoff President in ‘20.”

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