How serious is the Democratic consternation over a possible Howard Schultz presidential bid? Clearly, the concern has risen to the point of some liberals putting their money where their mouths are. Two prominent opposition research teams have issued a “warning” to Schultz that they will be pouring their considerable resources into thwarting him at every turn if he dares to toss his hat in the ring.

Two top Democratic groups are threatening to devote resources to thwart former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who announced over the weekend that he is “seriously considering” an independent bid for the White House.

At the center of their campaign to address the widespread concern among Democrats that a third-party campaign by the billionaire could steal vote away from their party’s nominee and deliver a second term to President Trump.

American Bridge, the top Democratic opposition research group, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a top liberal organization, are warning Schultz against launching his third-party bid after he embarked on a book tour this week. Both groups are committed to defeating Trump, and they said Tuesday that if Schultz is an obstacle to achieving that goal, they will oppose him with full force.

While not totally unheard of, this is still a rather remarkable position to take. Traditionally, oppo research teams lurk in the background, collecting useful information on potential future candidates and then unleashing it when they believe it will have the biggest impact. But this sort of threat, designed to intimidate someone to the point where they won’t even make the attempt simply flies in the face of the democratic process. Anyone can run for office and it’s the voters, not some self-appointed hall monitors, who will decide if they have the right stuff for the job.

Schultz is already drawing fire from late-night comics as well. (Not surprising since they’ve been acting as Democratic Party surrogates for years now.) Stephen Colbert got in on the act last night, lambasting the Starbucks founder as yet another billionaire “we don’t need.”

All of this Sturm und Drang over Schultz’s intentions led me to consider one humorous question this morning. What if he’s not even running? We’ve known billionaires in the past who loved to have people talking about them possibly running for president when they clearly had no intention of doing so because it’s generally good for business. (Rudy Giuliani pulled this trick regularly, except for that last time when he actually ran and was trounced.)

Schultz has books to sell and probably plenty of other business deals to keep him occupied now that he’s no longer CEO of his coffee chain. It would be absolutely hilarious to see the Democrats dumping this amount of angst and energy into fighting him only to have him turn around in March and say, “Never mind, but thanks for all the free publicity!”