Now that there’s the precedent for a reality television star to be elected to the highest office in the land, it shouldn’t be a surprise when friends or fans of television icons such as Oprah Winfrey start talking her up as a possible candidate in 2020.
Of course, Winfrey has said a thousand times she is not interested in running, unless it’s running as fast as she can away from a life in politics.
However, not everyone in the private sector shares that view. Some think running against Donald Trump not only sounds like great fun but makes great sense.
And at the top of that list is Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
Cuban has hinted for a while he’s thinking about at least exploring the possibility. Like Trump, he’s worth billions and certainly has the capability to lay the financial foundation to get the process started.
Earlier this week, Cuban told the New York Daily News he hasn’t moved past the conceptual stage. But he didn’t outright dismiss a run, either. He said it would take the “exact right set of circumstances” for him to form a political action committee.
“I haven’t decided anything yet. We’ll see what happens. It all comes down to how things play out. It’s not something I feel like I have to do,” Cuban said.
Cuban said he would run as an independent, something many private citizens, like Ralph Nader and Ross Perot, have done in the past. After failing to get the Democratic nomination in 2016, Bernie Sanders ran on the third line, as well.
“If you have a message that people want to hear and will grab onto, it doesn’t matter if you’re an independent or in one of the two main parties,” Cuban said.
One thing is for sure: Cuban’s national profile is much higher than many of the candidates in the Democratic party who have announced their candidacy.
He is one of the NBA’s most flamboyant owners, seemingly always in the middle of league scrums. He is well-known for his criticism of officials and has been fined many times by the league for saying things he shouldn’t have said.
And like Trump, who rose to fame by hosting “The Apprentice,” Cuban is one of the stars of “Shark Tank”, a show in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas for new business to a crew of potential investors.
If name recognition is considered an important first step in a political career, Cuban already has solved that problem.
Cuban told the Daily News he’s unhappy with the way major political parties try to appeal to voters during the primary stage of the campaign.
“It’s very difficult to show leadership in a situation like that because you can’t truly lead if you have to find an equilibrium between being a true leader for the people of your country vs. getting elected in your primary,” Cuban said. “None of those things are conducive to out and out leading the country.”
“You have to show people how they can have an upside and how problems are solvable, but you can’t just say ‘the government will figure it out. You’ve got to get right to the heart of the matter and get to the details first. Sort of like a business plan. That way every voter can see them.”
Like Trump did during his successful run in 2016, Cuban would need to construct a platform that would appeal to those distrustful of candidates without a political background. He’d also need to convince voters that running a multi-million dollar business qualifies you to run the United States.
One thing that might already be working against him is the scandal that enveloped the Mavericks organization last year. There were complaints of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct he felt compelled to apologize for.
“I’m just sorry I didn’t recognize it,” Cuban told ESPN. “In hindsight, it was staring me right in the face and I missed it.”
Should Cuban decide to run, he’s going to have to make his decision pretty soon. Running for president is a lot more complicated than keeping an NBA franchise afloat. There is money to raise, people to hire, platforms to devise.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with what’s going on with the Mueller report, there’s a lot of things that have to be figured out before we know how 2020 is going to play out,” Cuban said.
Just so you know, this concept is not new for Cuban. He’s been rolling it around in his brain for almost two years.
“I wouldn’t put it high on my list of probabilities, but we’ll see what happens,” Cuban said in August 2017. “I’m a big believer that you don’t just (run for president) to try to pretend to be a politician. You have to have solutions, and I’m working on some projects that if I think they can turn into solutions, then yeah, I’ll do it. If I don’t think I have the right answers, then I won’t.”