What do Democratic officials as diverse as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Joe Biden have in common? Each has signaled a desire to run for president in 2020, if not formally announced a decision to do so. And less than two years from their party’s primary, none appear to pose any kind of meaningful threat to Wall Street, even as its wealth and influence have grown in the protracted aftermath of the Great Recession.

According to new report from Politico, there are only two prospective candidates that the nation’s bankers genuinely fear. “It can’t be Warren, and it can’t be Sanders,” claims one anonymous CEO of a major bank. “It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.”

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the report reveals, Wall Street’s ideal candidate is Mike Bloomberg—a former Republican with deep ties to the financial sector and no discernible base. (According to the most recent Morning Consult/Politico data, he’s currently polling at 2 percent among Democratic voters.)

The industry would also likely be amenable to somebody like former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who made headlines this week when he called Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax on the ultra-rich “ridiculous.” Schultz’s ongoing flirtation with a third-party bid has already ignited calls for a Starbucks boycott, and he recently found himself brutally heckled during a promotional event at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. (Editor’s note: Schultz has postponed any announcement until at least the summer, and claims he will “only run if he sees a viable path” to victory.)

“On Wall Street, executives love Trump’s tax cuts and soft-touch regulatory posture,” writes Politico’s Ben White. “But as the nation comes off the longest shutdown in American history amid warnings of an impending economic slowdown, there is also a clear preference for a change to more predictable leadership.”

While finance has its concerns about each Democratic hopeful, it’s already assembling its favorites within the party. That list includes the aforementioned Harris, Booker and Biden, along with long shots like former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, although White acknowledges that “few actually know his [O’Rourke’s] positions.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has engendered more mixed feelings. Despite her calling for a financial transactions tax and the reinstatement of legislation that creates a wall between retail and investment banking, at least one Wall Street alumnus views her as a “pragmatist, not an ideologue.” (In recent weeks, the New York senator has also put out feelers to executives to gauge their interest in backing her presidential run.)

“Among the most hardcore Democrats on Wall Street, the strong desire is to find a candidate — any candidate — who can beat Trump,” White continues, “even if that means getting behind someone like Warren who supports policies that bankers hate.”

Implicit in the report is the assumption among its interview subjects that the only nominee guaranteed to lose against Donald Trump is a certain independent senator from Vermont. As one senior banking executive concludes, “Everyone in the top tier not named Bernie Sanders could probably win.”

Whether that belief is genuine or a bit of self-protective posturing is anyone’s guess. But if Sanders ultimately elects to run, the bumper sticker practically writes itself.

Read more at Politico.


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