The entire 2020 presidential election is starting to get a bit boring, isn’t it? What this race really needs is a fabulously wealthy, straight, white, cisgender male who’s old enough to collect Social Security benefits to toss his hat in the ring. (Oh, wait… we’ve already got at least three of those.) Anyway, if the club is still accepting new members, there may be one on the way. Politico is reporting today that Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, is running focus groups in Wisconsin to measure possible interest in him as a third-party candidate next year.
Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods and a longtime Republican donor, is testing the waters for a possible third-party presidential bid that could scramble the dynamics of the 2020 general election.
Various messages were presented to a focus group in southern Wisconsin this week centering on the billionaire businessman, along with possible three-way match-ups against Donald Trump and Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren.
The focus group, according to a source who took part in the testing, ran through varying themes involving Stack and heavily focused on his example of “showing leadership” by halting the sale of assault-style rifles at all of Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in the wake of the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida.
Hey, if Ed Stack wants to throw his money away on a doomed campaign, that’s up to him. It’s a free country, after all… at least for the time being.
But if he really does take the plunge, the obvious question is whether he hurts one major party candidate more than the other. Being a Republican donor for many years, you might be tempted to think that he would be a big draw for the Never Trump vote and others who might be disillusioned with the President’s performance. But ever since Stack led the charge to stop selling “assault weapons” in his stores he’s become something of a hero on the left. He would also be viewed as a far more moderate choice, so if the Democrats wind up nominating one of the crackpot socialists like Sanders or Warren, he might start cutting into their support.
Would it make any difference? It remains tough to imagine any third party challenger taking even a single electoral college vote. But at the same time, there’s still a valid argument to be made that Ralph Nader actually elected George W. Bush in 2000 by siphoning off votes from Al Gore in Florida.
My gut instinct here tells me that Stack is serious about thinking about running, but when all of the polling is done and he sees what his prospects are he’ll pull the plug on this idea. He’s presumably a smart businessman and should quickly become aware of the daunting challenges such a plan would present. He’d have to purchase himself a full roster of experienced campaign staff with national experience (assuming there are any for hire right now), plus set up organizations in all fifty states just to get on the ballot. And the clock is already ticking in terms of getting all that work done. It’s not impossible, but it would require virtually flawless execution to pull it off. Stack’s history doesn’t suggest that he became a billionaire by being the type to pour money down ratholes.