Could the 2020 Presidential Race Become a Clash of the CEOs?

BH1_2266-compressor
Bob Iger speaks after being named Chief Executive’s 2014 CEO of the Year.

Now that Donald Trump has broken the CEO-to-president glass ceiling, it stands to reason that other popular business leaders are eyeing the Oval Office.

Among them could be Disney CEO Bob Iger, who the Hollywood Reporter claims is considering nudges from friends to run against Trump in 2020.

Iger has previously told the publication that “a lot of people—a lot—have urged me to seek political office”, though at the time he ruled out running for California governor.

He hasn’t, however, ruled out a run for president and sources said he recently met with businessman and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss making the transition from business to politics.

“A lot of people—a lot—have urged me to seek political office.

Iger, who currently sits on Trump’s economic advisory council, has enjoyed much success at Disney since he took the reins of the entertainment giant in 2005. So much so that investors would be reluctant to see him leave.

Last month, the 66-year-old from New York City said he could stay on as Disney CEO beyond his scheduled 2018 departure, though it’s unclear how much longer he’d be prepared to hang around.

Iger has other friends in high political places, including former vice president and fellow Apple board member Al Gore. And he appears to be following in Trump’s footsteps by taking to Twitter: Iger just set up an account, though he’s only posted two Tweets to date.

If he ends up deciding that politics isn’t for him, here’s a few other possible CEO presidential contenders:

Howard Schultz: Now that he’s stood down as head of Starbucks, one of America’s most politically vocal CEOs has a clearer path to the White House. To be sure, Schultz has so far denied persistent rumors he’ll have a tilt in 2020 and remains involved with the coffee chain’s new high-end brand.

Mark Zuckerberg: A series of long, decidedly political posts on his own social network have sparked speculation the Facebook CEO could be a contender. Though at just 40 years of age, he’d likely have to wait out a few more terms before throwing his hat in the ring.

Mark Cuban: Another politically outspoken businessman, Cuban has been named in media reports as one of four Democrats the White House views as a potential challenger to Trump in 2020. The president has already fired off a missive, Tweeting last month: “Mark Cuban is not smart enough to run for president.”

Meg Whitman: The Hewlett Packard CEO, who once unsuccessfully ran for California governor, publicly backed Hillary Clinton during the election campaign. She technically remains a Republican, however, making a run as soon as 2020 doubtful.

Jamie Dimon: He’s already reportedly turned down the job of Treasury Secretary and many believe he has the chops to be commander-in-chief. “I would love to be president,” the JPMorgan CEO recently told a gathering in Washington, though he added: “I think it’s too hard and too late.”

Bill Gates: A survey released in August by consultancy Fidelum Partners showed many Americans admired the Microsoft founder and would indeed vote for him if he ran. “I like my job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation better than I would being president,” Gates told a gathering in March. “Also, I wouldn’t be good at doing what you need to do to get elected.”

Michael Bloomberg: Possibly one of the most likely of the crop, the billionaire almost ran as a third-party candidate last year out of frustration over rising populism on both sides of the political divided. Whether the 75-year-old has the legs for another stab remains to be seen.

Oprah Winfrey: It seems the unlikely election of Donald Trump, a political outsider with no government experience, has inspired another popular show business figure and entrepreneur to revive her presidential ambitions. “I thought, ‘Oh, gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough.’ And now I’m thinking, ‘Oh’,” Winfrey told Bloomberg yesterday.

SHARE
Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

PARTNER CENTER