The billionaire politicians who have run outside of party have not been particularly more damaging than other candidates, who have largely run for billionaires while running under the aegis their various organizations. Schultz’s lack of empathy with front-line workers and wage-earners does not make him stand out from recent Republican or Democratic candidates.
One might imagine that the point of Schultz running, for someone interested in egalitarian or humanitarian politics, would not be that there might be a temptation to vote for him, but that he draws part of the neoliberal-neoconservative vote from both parties. The major concern of the Democratic body politic, then, as opposed to that of many Democratic voters, is that his presence might open avenues within the party for possible candidates towards the relative left and popular side of the Democratic spectrum–for Sanders, Warren, Gabbard, et al.
There is likely a case for comparing a Schultz candidacy to that of Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. Perot’s money allowed him to run fairly independently for whatever combination of ideas or ideals or vanities motivated him. A lot of the common wisdom at the time was that he influenced the election by drawing more votes from Bush and Quayle in '92 and from Bob Dole than from Bill Clinton, thereby facilitating Clinton’s two victories. Thus, Perot’s candidacy has typically been treated as an advantage to Democrats, and by extension to liberal, progressive, or leftist interests in some broad sense.
In fairly deep retrospect, that’s a hard case to make. Bill Clinton administered NAFTA, an era of reduced social spending, and a murderous regime of sanctions and inspections to prepare Iraq for invasion. He crippled the Democratic Party as an alternative to corporatist and what had been “Reagonomics” and would come to be called “neoliberal” politics.
You cannot lose much allowing votes to be drawn from lousy candidates. There’s no percentage in allowing any fool to run until there’s some way to produce a decent, representative candidate who has authentic access to the electoral system.
I’m figuring we’re none of us holding our breaths, right?