Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook who’s currently on a tour of the US to meet with real, everyday Americans, is not running for president. Sure, there’s a super PAC that really wants him to run, and he continues to hire former political strategists like Joel Benenson, a former Hillary Clinton pollster. But despite his many photo ops, the man is not gearing up for a presidential run. If anything, Zuckerberg will set his sights on a more achievable local contest, such as San Francisco’s mayoral race in 2019.
Why does everyone think Zuckerberg is running for president?
Currently, Zuckerberg has three former political strategists working for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization he founded with his wife that’s devoted to “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” Benenson and his company, Benenson Strategy Group, will join the organization as consultants. He won’t be the only political operative on staff, though: he’ll be joining ranks with former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, who serves as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s president of policy and advocacy, and Amy Dudley, the former communications adviser to Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Zuckerberg’s personal photographer is also Charles Ommanney, who served as photographer for the George W. Bush and Obama campaigns.
Outside of these hires, Zuckerberg’s tour of the US has also produced numerous campaign-trail-style photos, such as gutting a fish with Alaskan locals, hanging out with truck drivers in Iowa, and grabbing Iftar dinner with Somali refugees in Minneapolis. All of the photos capture Zuckerberg looking normal and having fun, though in reality there are several rules one must adhere to when meeting Zuckerberg, so it’s unlikely things were as tranquil as they seem. The giddy earnestness captured in these moments serves to reveal a different side to Zuckerberg, one that’s grounded outside of Silicon Valley and CEO meetings, putting him smack-dab in the minds of “normal” people who exist in the US, those who most likely use Facebook every day.
Why would Zuckerberg run for a local race first?
Zuckerberg believes in the power of community, or so he insinuated at the Facebook Community Summit in June. This sentiment is also reflected in Facebook’s new mission statement: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” It’s therefore more likely that he’d pin his hopes on local races, where he can talk to the community both directly and through Facebook groups. Besides, if Zuckerberg were to run locally, he’d have an easier time convincing people to vote for him. His audience, after all, includes people who live nearby and work in tech companies themselves.
Most importantly, the 2020 presidential race is going to be a total rat race. Contenders are already contemplating throwing their hats into the ring, and President Donald Trump has even started to fundraise. Zuckerberg wouldn’t bet his future on such convoluted odds.
What race would he run for?
Zuckerberg could start small, run for a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, but he’ll most likely go for something like the 2019 San Francisco mayoral race. Sure, Zuckerberg will face a ton of critics, especially among those who oppose the tech shuttle buses or the pricing out of locals in the housing market due to companies like Facebook. But, if current San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee won reelection despite these valid criticisms, what’s to stop constituents from voting in someone like Zuckerberg?
So for now, keep an eye on Zuckerberg’s tour of America and his earnest Facebook Live videos. It’s still too early for us to predict that Zuckerberg will relocate the White House to Palo Alto someday, but you heard it here first.