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Steve Bannon is encouraging Mark Cuban to run for President in 2020 - as a Democrat
Donald Trump's former chief strategist is back in the news this morning - only this time he's advising someone who may end up on the other side of the aisle.
If you've been following Bannon's post-administration career, you probably know that he's been all over the map regarding the President's 2020 outlook. At first, he declared that Trump would sail to an easy reelection win. Then, he was allegedly saying that Trump only had a 30% chance of finishing his first term. Somewhere in there he also intimated that Trump might not even want to run for a second term.
So, when we learn that he's been advising billionaire Mark Cuban to make a 2020 run - as a Democrat - we can't help but take notice.
As he publicly flirts with a run for the presidency in 2020, Mark Cuban has also privately been in touch with potential allies and strategists to plot out a campaign.
The Dallas Mavericks owner confirmed that he has corresponded on multiple occasions since the 2016 election with Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist.
He downplayed the interactions in an email exchange with The Daily Beast, saying merely that he “texted with him a few time[s]” and that none, he believed, had “been more than one full sentence.” But according to four sources familiar with their conversations, the two have been in touch for months about a possible 2020 bid. Bannon, these sources say, has encouraged Cuban to run and to consider doing so as a Democrat, seeing it as a realistic path to a viable presidential run.
“They talk regularly,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser who is close to Bannon. “They’re very similar. They have a lot of synergy there. Even when [Steve] went to work for Trump, Mark would be interviewed and say nice things about Steve.”
The question, obviously, is "Does Cuban really want to do this?" A quick look at presidential before-and-after photos will give you an idea of how hard the job is and, whether you fail or succeed, some percentage of the country is going to end up hating you. Cuban's a well-liked billionaire who's having a lot of fun with his family and various enterprises, so is he really champing at bit for a grueling 8-year hitch in D.C.?
...And would he even run as a Democrat?
The answer is a definite maybe.
From the NY Daily News
On Thursday, Cuban spoke at The New York Times DealBook Conference and said that if he ran for president, it would be as a “Republican before Democrat, and most likely independent.”
Earlier in the month, he told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday that he was “thinking (about it) quite a bit. Would I do it? Right now I say it is 10%.”
10% may not seem like a lot, but this is politics. Most potential candidates won't even admit they're interested until they're ready to file paperwork. So, to put that 10% number out there means that Cuban has given this a substantial amount of thought.
As for why Bannon is urging him to throw his hat in the Democratic ring, I see three possibilities:
A: Bannon thinks Cuban would lose to Trump. If Bannon wants Trump to get a second term, and he thinks Cuban would lose to Trump, his reasons for wanting Cuban to run as a Democrat are obvious.
B: Bannon doesn't care who wins, is just friends with Cuban, and is honestly saying "Sure, go ahead and run, but run as a Dem because Trump supporters will never warm up to you."
C: Bannon thinks Cuban has a genuine shot at winning. This is the more likely option, honestly. Bannon has made no secret of his disdain for the current crop of GOP do-nothings. There's a good chance he believes the Republicans have severely damaged their 2020 hopes through failure, inaction, and scandal. If he can convince a palatable guy to go for the Dem nomination, he's covering his bases. If Trump wins, fine. If he loses, drops out, or is forced out, Bannon has an acceptable alternative in Cuban.
Obviously, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt. We have no way of knowing how serious Cuban really is, or how extensive his contact with Bannon has been. It could all be out of context, hearsay, or plain old bogus reporting.
...But is an intriguing bit of "strategery."