Zuckerberg moves spark 2020 speculation

Zuckerberg moves spark 2020 speculation
© Getty Images

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg's recent actions are stirring speculation that he may run for the White House.

Zuckerberg, who will turn 35 in 2019, has announced that in 2017 he will visit and meet people in all 50 states.

He’s also created a new class of non-shares that would allow him to invest and donate his holdings in Facebook without losing control of his company.

Facebook’s SEC filing on the new shares specifically dictates that Zuckerberg would retain control of the company even if he were “serving in a government position or office.”


The moves have won Zuckerberg attention in the media, with Vanity Fairthe Atlantic and the Chicago Tribune all writing recent stories about the idea of Zuckerberg running for the White House.

Given Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE’s successful bid, it strikes more than one political observer as possible.

“Donald Trump's victory changed the narrative in American politics,” said Texas-based Republican digital campaign strategist Vincent Harris.

“We've seen a complete blending of entertainment and politics in America, and a potential Zuckerberg candidacy would play very well into what the public has come to desire.”

Harris said Zuckerberg’s recent trip to Waco, Texas had the trappings of a candidate’s trip.

The first stop on his road trip, Zuckerberg met in Waco with ministers and community leaders.

“We may come from different backgrounds, but we all want to find purpose and authenticity in something bigger than ourselves,” he wrote above a set of pictures posted about the meetings.

“Listening tours like Zuckerberg's recent one to Waco, Texas, show he might be serious about a run,” said Harris. “His photos and the way he is rolling out the tour is very similar to the beginning of a run where candidates travel around to generate media attention and listen to constituents.”

A presidential run by Zuckerberg would be a true game-changer that would pose conflict of interest issues beyond those sparked by Trump.

Facebook plays an overwhelmingly large part in disseminating news. Even the perception of Facebook’s sway on an election involving Mark Zuckerberg could pose problems. Zuckerberg would have control of a company with $365 billion in market capitalization.

Other outsiders have been discussed as possible candidates on the left. 

Many Democrats rejoiced at the brief possibility in 2015 of then-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz running for president.  

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE’s campaign floated Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Schultz as potential running mates last year.

Zuckerberg would have a deep pool of connected operatives to draw from. He just hired Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate MORE’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, at the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic group Zuckerberg founded with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan.

The Silicon Valley billionaire also has close ties to the immigration advocacy organization that he founded, FWD.us. The group is run by Todd Schulte, who had previously worked on Capitol Hill as chief of staff for then Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.) and then at the PAC, Priorities USA.

Facebook’s own D.C. office is steeped with connected Washington insiders who have spent years in politics.

Zuckerberg would also have exclusive access to one of the deepest pools of voter data in existence.

“He has the advantage of being able to understand and look what Americans are saying about issues on Facebook in a way that no other candidate could possibly have,” said Dr. Alan Rosenblatt a digital strategist and researcher.

Zuckerberg is still only 32, and would be 36 in 2020, seven years younger than John F. Kennedy, the youngest person to ever win the presidency at age 43.

“He’s young enough that he does not have to rush into this,” Rosenblatt said. “The longer he waits the more he could build his capacity to know what the public is thinking on a much deeper level.”

But Democratic political strategist Craig Varoga said it would be unwise to rule Zuckerberg out.

“The wise guys said Obama couldn’t win, but he did. Then they said Trump couldn’t win, but he did,” he said. “The same experts said there was no way an online platform could get almost two billion users, but we know that story.  So if anybody says Mark Zuckerberg can’t happen, he or she needs to pinch themselves and wake up.”