By Jon Dougherty

Internal polling released by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as he continues to contemplate running for president in 2020 as an independent is creating a disturbance within Democratic ranks because it says he’s doing well — at their expense.

After a media blitz last week in which the liberal CEO claimed he was considering running as an Independent rather than a Democrat because he doesn’t agree with all of the party’s policies, Schultz managed to garner 17 percent in a survey of 1,500 likely voters.

Meanwhile, POTUS Donald Trump led both Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, both declared Democratic 2020 contenders, by a point, 33 to 32 percent. Nineteen percent said they were undecided.

Meanwhile, NBC News reported that Schultz, at above 15 percent in the survey, is a big deal because that’s the threshold a third party candidate must breach in order to be able to participate in the nationally televised debates.

The last time that happened was in 1992 when then-Reform Party candidate Ross Perot was polling well enough to participate in debates with incumbent President George H. W. Bush and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton.

The Commission on President Debates requires that candidates receive 15 percent support in an average of five selected polling organizations that report results publicly before debates begin.

Also, third-party candidates must qualify to appear on ballots in enough states to mathematically have a chance of winning the required 270 Electoral College ballots to become president.

Perot would go on to win 19 percent of the popular vote in the general election but did not capture any states in the Electoral College. Some argued that he cost Bush a reelection victory by taking votes away from him but that has never been proven conclusively.

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    Still, Democrats are clearly concerned that Schultz, who is a liberal on most issues, would take votes away from whomever the Democrat Party nominated.

    “I have respect for Howard Schultz. If he chooses to get in the race, I hope he gets in the Democratic Party. We’ll treat him very fairly,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told Fox News last week.

    “What an independent run would do in 2020 is simply split the anti-Trump vote and help Donald Trump get re-elected,” Perez said.

    Others weren’t so polite.

    “This is a pathetic vanity project, and Howard Schultz better start laying off the espresso,” Robert Zimmerman, a leading Democratic party bundler, told CNBC. “I would not take lightly the inevitable hashtags popping up saying ‘no Starbucks, no Schultz.'”

    Nathan Lerner, co-founder of Draft Beto, a group looking to persuade former Rep. Beto O’Rourke to run for president, threatened to lead a boycott of Starbucks if Schultz runs.

    “I will not only #BoycottStarbucks if Howard Schultz runs for President as an independent, but stand outside everyday protesting. His ego and selfishness is disgraceful,” he tweeted.

    Where Schultz, who grew up poor, differs most from the Democratic candidates is “Medicare for all,” which he says will bankrupt the country, and taxing wealthy Americans — who are business owners and job creators — at 70 to 90 percent, because he believes it will damage the economy.

    “I’ve been a Democrat, but I am no longer,” Schultz said last week, adding, “I don’t affiliate myself with the Democratic Party, who’s so far left, who basically wants the government to take over health care, which we cannot afford, the government to give free college to everybody, and the government to give everyone a job. … We can’t afford it.”

    He’s not alone there. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, in responding to a $2.3 billion budget shortfall for this coming fiscal year, said Monday his state could not “go back to the well” again and levy new taxes on the state’s wealthiest earners because it would be counterproductive.

    “That’s as serious as a heart attack. This is worse than we had anticipated,” he said Monday in Albany.

    “I don’t believe raising taxes on the rich” is the answer, he continued, in a declaration that should serve as a warning shot to 2020 Democratic presidential contenders and Democratic socialists in Congress. “That would be the worst thing to do. You would just expand the shortfall. God forbid if the rich leave.”

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