Thursday May 28th, 2020 1:22AM

Hometown protest and fans greet Schultz as he eyes 2020 bid

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SEATTLE (AP) — "Grande ego. Venti mistake": That was the message protesters had for former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as he returned to his hometown of Seattle after announcing that he's mulling an independent run for president.

Several dozen protesters gathered outside a downtown theater before Schultz appeared to promote his new book Thursday night. They included Democrats who fret his candidacy would hand President Donald Trump another term, and green-and-gold-bedecked basketball fans who haven't forgiven him for selling the Seattle SuperSonics to a group that moved the team to Oklahoma City more than a decade ago.

"The way he dealt with the Sonics shows a huge fault in his character," said Farheen Siddiqui, 25, who wore a team jersey to the protest.

Inside, though, he got a warmer reception, with hearty applause from a crowd of 1,100, especially when he apologized about the Sonics and described the health insurance and stock options he offered to Starbucks employees early on.

"I'm a fan of everything Howard's done with Starbucks," said Annie Peters, of Bellevue. "He obviously cares about people but has done a great job building the business as well. I've been waiting for someone like him to run."

The 65-year-old billionaire and Democratic donor, who stepped down as Starbucks chairman last June, has been on a tour of talk shows and news interviews the past few days, coinciding with the release of his latest book, "From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America."

He said he doesn't intend to decide whether to run for president for several months, but the reaction from prominent Democrats has been swift. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the party chairwoman in Washington state, top advisers to former President Barack Obama and the most powerful political action committee in Democratic politics are among those who have criticized him, saying an independent bid would likely split the opposition to Trump and make his re-election more likely.

The protesters outside his talk Thursday chanted: "Pick a party." Some carried signs decorated like Starbucks cups that read "Compost your campaign" and "Grande ego. Venti mistake" — a reference to the Italian names for drink sizes at the coffee chain.

Schultz promised the crowd, "I will do nothing on any level to proceed if I thought I would in any way persuade Americans to vote and re-elect Donald Trump."

In Seattle, where 92 percent of voters cast ballots against Trump in 2016, helping get him re-elected might be even less popular than selling off a beloved sports franchise. Many in the audience applauded a heckler's suggestion he run as a Democrat, and several also cheered ideas that Schultz was panning, such as drastically increased tax rates on the super-rich.

The crowd was more muted when Schultz explained away his voting record — he's cast a ballot in just 11 of 38 state, federal and local elections since 2005, as The Seattle Times first reported. He said he has voted in every presidential election since he turned 18, but otherwise said he simply hasn't been engaged in local politics.

Chris Petzold, a Democratic activist from the Seattle suburb of Issaquah, organized the protest Thursday. She said she remains sad about the Sonics departure, but the protest wasn't about that.

"Now is not the time to risk getting another four years with Donald Trump as president," Petzold said. "If you want to fix it, why not fix it from within the system, instead of being your arrogant billionaire self? He's just buying his way into this."

Schultz has repeatedly said he doesn't want to be responsible for Trump's re-election, but that he believes there is a way to unite a significant portion of the public that identifies with neither major party.

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in The Seattle Times, Schultz acknowledged that he has a "complicated" relationship with Seattle, a city he first fell in love with during a visit to Pike Place Market in 1981. It's the city where he grew a small coffee-roasting company into an inescapable global chain, where he and his wife raised their two children, and where the couple still lives.

Along the way he made Starbucks one of the first U.S. companies to offer stock options and health insurance even to part-time employees; more recently, it partnered with Arizona State University to cover tuition for workers who want to earn their bachelor's degrees online.

In 2001, Schultz led a group of investors in buying the Sonics and the WNBA's Seattle Storm for $200 million. Due partly to an unfavorable lease deal and the small size of KeyArena, where the team played, the Sonics were losing millions of dollars a year.

After being rebuffed by the Legislature in his efforts to win public funding to remodel the venue, Schultz sold the team for $350 million to the group that moved it to Oklahoma City and renamed it the Thunder. The Sonics were Seattle's oldest professional sports franchise and the first Seattle team to win a national title since the Seattle Metropolitans won hockey's Stanley Cup in 1917.

"I was so focused on getting myself and others out of a money-losing situation that I made a bad choice and failed to follow a principle that helped me grow Starbucks, which is to try to balance profit with humanity," he wrote in The Seattle Times. "Selling the Sonics is the biggest regret of my professional life."

Some Sonics fans considered the apology long overdue — not to mention suspect, given that it coincided with the announcement of his presidential musings.

Schultz's politics aren't necessarily going to win him many fans in his liberal hometown, either.

In Seattle, voters rarely see a tax increase they don't like; Schultz has called for entitlement reform and branded the calls of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats for big tax increases on the ultra-rich "ridiculous."

Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to approve a $15-an-hour minimum wage; Schultz opposed it, fearing it would cost jobs. The law remains popular, and economists say it has raised pay without any real impact on employment.

Schultz's consideration of a presidential run even drew a rebuke from a fellow Seattle billionaire, early Amazon investor and outspoken liberal Nick Hanauer.

"What Howard calls 'centrism' is just trickle-down economics_tax cuts for the rich, de-regulation for the powerful, and wage suppression for everyone else," Hanauer tweeted.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Hometown protest and fans greet Schultz as he eyes 2020 bid
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz returned to his Seattle hometown for the first time since saying he might launch an independent presidential bid.
1:00PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Parents: Saudi accused in girl's death likely won't return
The parents of a teenage girl who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a street in Portland, Oregon, say they are having a hard time dealing with the fact that the suspect has disappeared
12:49PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Northwest US measles cases prompt look at vaccine exemptions
A measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest has some state lawmakers rethinking the so-called "philosophical" vaccine exemption as the number of confirmed cases of the virus grows to the dozens.
12:43PM ( 27 minutes ago )
U.S. News
NBA adds Wade, Nowitzki to All-Star player pool
Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki added to All-Star rosters by NBA commissioner
1:00PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Italy's Salvini backs EU train line opposed by govt partner
Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini says he supports a review of a high-speed railway project that protests have stalled for decades
12:55PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Women will surround Trump at State of the Union address
Women, powerful Democrats. Immigrants _ all living reminders of the 2018 election, will surround Trump as he delivers the State of the Union
12:48PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Her knees 'broken beyond repair,' Vonn retiring after worlds
Lindsey Vonn says she will retire from ski racing after this month's world championships in Sweden
12:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Las Vegas: Charm will keep bettors coming for the Super Bowl
Las Vegas is not worried about the competition from casinos in other states that for the first time Sunday will also offer football fans a chance to bet on the Super Bowl
11:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
Olympic champion among 12 Russian athletes guilty of doping
Twelve Russian track and field athletes, including 2012 Olympic high jump champion Ivan Ukhov, have been found guilty of taking part in state-backed doping
11:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
With LeBron back, Lakers outlast Clippers in OT 123-120
LeBron James had 24 points and 14 rebounds in his return from a 17-game injury absence, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Clippers 123-120 in overtime after blowing a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead
2:57AM ( 10 hours ago )
Cardinal Moment: Jeff Walz and Louisville finally beat UConn
Jeff Walz and Louisville finally beat UConn
2:03AM ( 11 hours ago )
Embiid, 76ers spoil DeMarcus Cousins' home Warriors debut
Joel Embiid had 26 points and 20 rebounds to spoil DeMarcus Cousins' home debut with the Warriors, and the Philadelphia 76ers snapped Golden State's NBA-best 11-game winning streak with a 113-104 victory
1:32AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Russian escort says she gave Trump info to Russian tycoon
A Belarusian Instagram model who has claimed to have information on the ties between Russians and the Donald Trump election campaign says that she has turned it over to Russian billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska
11:22AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Cory Booker vows to work with Latino community
Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has begun reaching out to key constituencies in his 2020 presidential bid, calling in to 3 radio shows popular with black and Hispanic listeners.
10:17AM ( 2 hours ago )
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker launches 2020 bid
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is running for president in 2020
9:54AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
Bernie Sanders pitches new tax plan hitting ultra-wealthy
Bernie Sanders has released a plan to significantly raise taxes on the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans
3:20PM ( 21 hours ago )
Schultz faces hometown protests as he eyes 2020 bid
Sonics fans, worried Democrats will greet talk by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as he returns to Seattle
3:00PM ( 22 hours ago )
Comedian takes lead in Ukraine presidential race, polls show
A comedian has taken the lead in Ukraine's presidential race, according to the latest polls
1:53PM ( 23 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
US employers add robust 304K jobs in sign of durable economy
US employers added 304,000 jobs last month; unemployment rises to 4 percent
12:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
Solid jobs report sends stocks mostly higher on Wall Street
Solid jobs report sends stocks mostly higher on Wall Street
11:48AM ( 1 hour ago )
BP backs shareholder initiative on climate plan disclosure
Energy giant BP plans to release more information about how new energy exploration and production projects would affect its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
11:25AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Merck 4Q net powered by cancer treatment sales, lower taxes
Merck posts better-than-expected 4Q profit on higher sales and lower tax bill
9:58AM ( 3 hours ago )
Exxon ramps up production, tops 4Q profit expectations
Exxon Mobil easily beats profit expectations for the fourth quarter as production heats up
8:27AM ( 4 hours ago )
Merck 4Q powered by cancer treatment sales
Merck posts better than expected profit for the fourth quarter with revenue up 4.6 percent.
7:04AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Knicks agree to trade Porzingis to Dallas
The New York Knicks have traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, parting with their young All-Star forward as he recovers from a torn knee ligament
6:21PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP sources: Knicks agree to trade Porzingis to Dallas
People with knowledge of deal to AP: Knicks agree to trade Kristaps Porzingis to Mavericks
5:29PM ( 19 hours ago )
Love scrimmages with Cavs during practice, close to playing
Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love took part in a contact scrimmage and could be days away from playing in a game
4:00PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Sports - NBA
Parents: Saudi accused in girl's death likely won't return
The parents of a teenage girl who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a street in Portland, Oregon, say they are having a hard time dealing with the fact that the suspect has disappeared
12:49PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Northwest US measles cases prompt look at vaccine exemptions
A measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest has some state lawmakers rethinking the so-called "philosophical" vaccine exemption as the number of confirmed cases of the virus grows to the dozens.
12:43PM ( 27 minutes ago )
A deluge of drones fly over Super Bowl stadium, despite ban
The FBI says that security officials are being "inundated" with drones flying around the Atlanta stadium that will host Sunday's Super Bowl 53.
12:08PM ( 1 hour ago )
'Empire' actor defends himself in 1st comments since attack
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is disputing rumors circulating on social media that he has been less than cooperative with the investigation into a racially-charged Chicago attack in which he says two men beat him and wrapped a rope around his neck
12:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
Midwest awaits spring-like thaw just days after bitter cold
Midwest awaits spring-like thaw just days after bitter cold; temperatures could climb by 80 degrees
11:37AM ( 1 hour ago )