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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Furious Democrats hope to pound Starbucks chairman emeritus Howard Schultz into an early departure from his exploration of an independent 2020 bid.

The state of play: These Democrats want to prevent the coffee king from siphoning anti-Trump votes and perhaps unintentionally helping re-elect President Trump. We're hearing threats of boycotts and social isolation, attacks on Starbucks, and emotional, insistent lobbying of his advisers.

One of Washington's best-wired party operatives told me: "I've talked to six dozen Democrats, and the overwhelming sentiment is that he will be pushed out by this incredible wave of disgust and disdain rolling his way."

  • "The flaw in Schultz's logic is that we're living in this massively abnormal moment," the operative continued. "When you're on the head of a pin, even 500 votes in the wrong place can be existential."
  • "The bottom line is: Nobody thinks this is sustainable."

Bill Burton, a former campaign and White House aide to President Barack Obama, is enduring the skepticism of friends to serve as a message and communications adviser to Schultz.

  • "The good news is that presidential elections are not decided on Twitter," Burton said.
  • "His decision on whether or not to run won't be decided there, either."
  • "The level of certainty by the pundits about how this'll play out reminds me of the certainty that President Obama couldn't win or President Trump couldn't win."

But for many powerful Dems, this is personal. They view Schultz's dabbling as a dangerous gamble, indulgence and diversion. They told Axios:

  • Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager: "He can't win, and he could seriously damage our ability to beat Donald Trump. He should either run as a Democrat, or spend his time and money doing something that won't ruin the world."
  • Philippe Reines, confidant of Hillary Clinton: "Howard Schultz is a jackass. ... He's arrogant and wealthy — and those people tend to not see the world as it is."

What's next: Schultz appears in Phoenix today on the tour for his new book, "From the Ground Up," then continues on to Seattle and other major cities.

Go deeper:

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Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 9 mins ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

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