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Schultz for president? Sonics fans, Seattle sports media blast idea

Speculation is that former Sonics owner Howard Schultz will run in 2020, but many Sonics fans remain bitter he sold to a group that moved the team to Oklahoma City a decade ago.

Some Seattle SuperSonics fans and sports media are making it clear to Howard Schultz that if he does run for president in 2020, they may not be behind the former Sonics owner-- even in solid blue Washington state.

Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO announced this week he is stepping down as the company's executive chairman. That immediately launched speculation that he could campaign for the right to challenge President Donald Trump in two years.

Like experienced politicians who were this far out from a White House run, Schultz is keeping his plans vague.

"Let's just see what happens," he said in an interview with CNBC.

For all his success, Schultz has one major black eye in the Pacific Northwest -- his sale of the Sonics to an Oklahoma-based ownership group in 2006 after he failed to secure an arena for the team. The team moved two years later. Although Schultz has reportedly said he was bamboozled by the new owners, many knew what was coming the moment the sale happened. The effort at the time to get an NBA team in Oklahoma City was no secret. Fans still blame Schultz to this day.

Sonics fans on social media eviscerated Schultz as speculation grew about his possible presidential aspirations.

"Over the past 48 hours, the press shifted to treating Howard Schultz as a candidate. Come on! He couldn't even figure out how to get a stadium in Seattle so he gave the Sonics to Oklahoma City," tweeted The Urban Hobo.

"Listening to Howard Schultz on @CNBC this morning talking about his "retirement." I could consider backing this guy for #president...IF HE HADN'T SOLD THE SEATTLE #SONICS!!!" tweeted Jeremy Korst.

"Here's a hypothetical I'm legitimately curious about: could a die hard Sonics fan vote for Howard Schultz for President?" tweeted Mike Fay.

There are a few who think Schultz wouldn't win Washington state, which hasn't gone to a Republican since 1984.

"Schultz won't carry Washington. Lots of people mad about the Sonics," tweeted Kyle Alm.

Seattle media columnists and talk show hosts were also not kind.

"Do we really want a president who can be rolled so easily?" The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat asked, referring to Schultz's belief that the Oklahoma City owners were going to keep the team in Seattle.

"The fact that you might run for president is comical to me," wrote 710 ESPN Seattle's Danny O'Neil. "You couldn’t even negotiate a sports arena in the city where you live, and as much of a joke as our city council can be, I think there might be trickier situations you would have to deal with at a national level.

O'Neil also tweeted that a positive of having Schultz run is that he might be forced in a debate to answer questions about his sale of the team. Schultz has generally deflected from the topic when asked.

"There is only one reason to root for the tall drip HoHo Schultz to run for president: In a debate format he might actually be forced to answer for selling the Sonics to carpetbaggers," O'Neil tweeted

"It's hard to overstate just how much of a persona non grata Schultz became among the Seattle sports community following the Sonics' exodus. I'm not sure folks outside the Pacific Northwest grasp the depths of loathing many feel for him due to his role in the fiasco," tweeted Ryan Priest of SB Nation.

"If Howard Schultz gets elected president who will he ultimately sell America to when things get tough," tweeted Sports Radio 950 KJR's Mike Gastineau. He attached a poll to it, with 51 percent of the vote going to China.

"Don’t expect the votes of the Sonics fans," is how Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton led off his commentary.

Even noted poll watcher Nate Silver took a dig.

"Hard to think of anyone who would formulate a better contrast with Trump than an old white business dude who once ran a professional sports team into the ground," Silver tweeted.

Conservative radio host Jason Rantz thinks Schultz won't carry liberal-heavy Seattle.

"Schultz running for President could be the first time Seattle votes Republican. Who is hated here more than Trump? The guy who got rid of the Sonics. Schultz is hated here," Rantz tweeted.

This, however, is Washington state. It's solidly in favor of Democrats (Governor, the majority in both houses of state legislature, both U.S. senators, and six of 10 U.S. representatives) and an attorney general who has filed lawsuit after lawsuit against the Trump administration. It's clear which way the political winds lean in Washington and how people vote.

Because of that, we leave the last word for Seattle Times sports columnist Matt Calkins.

"Prediction: If Howard Schultz somehow wins the Democratic nomination, 85-90 percent of the Seattleites bashing him right now will vote for him in 2020," Calkins tweeted.