Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, summarized my view of CNN’s GOP Presidential national security debate tonight, tweeting, “Perry [said] a lot of words.” It wasn’t particularly exciting: Speaker Gingrich was a knowledgeable hawk, Rep. Paul was an intelligent libertarian, Gov. Perry was somewhere in between, Mr. Cain was a talking point orator, Rep. Bachmann was approximately what one would have expected, and Gov. Romney was pretty even-keeled. Oh, and Jon Huntsman was there too and said a lot of really intelligent-sounding stuff, but that’s not relevant.
Shortly after the debate, I saw a tweet favorited by former Comptroller General David M. Walker, a Connecticut Independent. It read: “[Dave Walker] we need you and [Mark Cuban] to run for Prez and VP. Marc has the money, David has the know how. Let’s do this. 3rd party.” Admittedly, I get overly excited when I think of new potential Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, and this is the first time I ever considered Mark Cuban as a potential candidate for public office.
First, Walker has made clear his intentions not to seek the presidency, despite his incredible track record, financial expertise, and unaffiliated voter support (he is a No Labels co-founder, and the 2nd-place-finishing, No Labels-endorsed candidate in the POLITICO Primary). Hopefully Walker will reconsider. Hopefully Mike Bloomberg will realize he is the preeminent office holder in modern America and decide to run. Hopefully another relevant independent will realize that he or she needs to run. Regardless, Mark Cuban would make a great running mate.
Cuban is a third generation American, whose grandparents came through Ellis Island, and a self-made billionaire. He grew up in Mt. Lebanon, just outside Pittsburgh, PA in a working class family. His first entrepreneurial success was selling garbage bags at age twelve to pay for a pair of basketball should he wanted. He held a multitude of odd jobs to pay his way through a strong state college, Indiana University. Cuban had a quintessentially American upbringing.
When Cuban turned 21, as a student, he purchased a bar and sold stock to his peers at $50 per share. He graduated college and became a salesman for a PC software company in Dallas, Texas. Shortly thereafter, he started the company MicroSolutions, which he successfully sold to a subsidiary of H&R Block for $6 million, from which he took about $2 million profit after taxes. Only a few years later, in 1995, Cuban started Broadcast.com (originally Audionet). In 1999, Broadcast.com had 334 employees (300 of whom became millionaires when the company went public) and $13.5 million in revenue. Cuban, and his partner Todd Wagner, took the site public at $18 per share. The closing price on the day of the IPO was $62.75, a 248% increase; it was the biggest IPO in the history of the NASDAQ Market. Within about a year of the IPO, Cuban and Wagner sold their shares in Broadcast.com to Yahoo! for more than $6 billion. They went to Las Vegas to celebrate promptly thereafter. According to Forbes, Cuban is today the 459th richest person in the world with a net worth of $2.5 billion (that would go a long way in an independent campaign). It’s also worth mentioning that Cuban owns the Dallas Mavs.
Although Cuban’s political donations have been limited, they have crossed party lines. Cuban also started and helped to finance the Fallen Patriot Fund, which helps families of those killed or injured in the Iraq War. In 2008, Cuban endorsed should-have-been candidate Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the New York City Mayor, for the presidency, saying, “Are you listening Mayor Bloomberg? For less than the cost of opening a tent pole movie, you can change the status quo.”
Cuban has personal finances. He is incredibly well liked by his home state, Texas (38 electoral votes!), and has personal ties to Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes!). He has great business, entrepreneurial, and managerial abilities. Cuban does not have a ton of political experience, so he is likely a more suitable Vice Presidential candidate than a Presidential candidate. However, his compelling personal narrative, business track record, and strong-willed ability to do just about anything he has set himself to makes him a very exciting potential candidate. When Dave Walker, Mike Bloomberg, Colin Powell, Jon Huntsman, Condoleezza Rice, or some other strong candidate decides to run as an independent for President of the United States, Cuban will be an ideal potential running mate.
I hope Mr. Cuban is listening and knows that for an expensive price – mentally, physically, and financially – he can, and should, change the status quo.
Side note, he’s apparently the man. Check out the Entourage and biographical clips below: