Mark Cuban, the billionaire tech entrepreneur, reality TV star, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, told the New York Daily News in a long interview last night that he's still thinking about running for president in 2020.
"I haven't decided anything yet," Cuban told the paper. "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. 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. But it's something that if circumstances were right I would do."
Cuban has been publicly mulling a run since at least South by Southwest in March 2017, at which he also said "at heart I'm a libertarian." But consistent with his comments since then, he rejected the notion of running as the nominee of any third party in this most recent interview.
"They're all going to have their own internal politics," he said. "So the idea of just starting a third party, that has been tried time and time [again] for 200 years, and so that defeats the purpose and actually makes things worse and not better." (Cuban was asked in 2016 by a Libertarian Party acquaintance to compete for the party's presidential nomination, and responded: "My wife and kids would run away if I did. But I'm flattered.")
In the new interview, Cuban criticized the Democratic primary field for tacking left ("they're doing nothing to try to bring independent and Republican voters aboard"), and for failing to tap into the anti-political mood of the country.
"People weren't voting for [Trump in 2016] because he was calling people names, they were voting for him because he was not a politician, and he was demonstrating to everyone that he wasn't a politician," he said. "A big chunk of voters, Republican voters, still want someone who is not a politician. And you're not getting that from anyone in the Democratic Party."
Cuban was light on policy specifics, aside from saying, "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.'" He has unusual if strongly held opinions about health care policy, has praised some of Trump's deregulatory record, and declared two months ago that he's a "big fan" of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.).
Compared to potential independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz (a fellow former NBA franchise owner!), Cuban has a very clear advantage: He's famous outside the world of politics and can get media attention any time he wants. Schultz also comes across like an eat-your-Wheaties scold, whereas the Mavericks owner is more of a rakish rhetorical bombthrower, though this approach has also earned him his fair share of non-fans.
On the flip side, importantly, Schultz has been preparing and financing his run for quite some time now, while his counterpart has shown no visible signs other than occasionally flapping his gums. The former Starbucks CEO has polled between 7 and 12 percent in various three-way matchups thus far, but 1) it's sooooo early that Stephanie Slade will get mad at you for taking polls seriously; 2) he's the only third option presented in these surveys, though the Libertarian Party will likely be on all 50 state ballots and may just have a comparatively attractive and well-known nominee; and 3) third-party poll numbers almost always start high then collapse.