News & Politics

Impeachment-Obsessed Environmentalist Billionaire Tom Steyer Considering 2020 Run

FILE - In this March 13, 2019, photo, billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer speaks during a "Need to Impeach" town hall event in Agawam, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Tom Steyer, the hedge fund billionaire who emerged as the biggest individual donor in American politics and launched a campaign demanding President Donald Trump’s impeachment, is reconsidering his decision not to run for president in 2020. Sources confirmed the 2020 consideration to The Atlantic and The Washington Post.

“You never know with Tom until he actually pulls the trigger, but he’s telling a lot of people he works with and trusts that he’s going to do it,” one of the Democrats with knowledge of Steyer’s plans told The Post. “He wants in.”

Last week in San Francisco, the billionaire told staffers at Need to Impeach and NextGen America — two organizations he funds — that he is launching a 2020 campaign and that he intends to make the formal announcement on Tuesday, The Atlantic reported.

Steyer has changed his mind before, however. In January, he told his people to expect a presidential run. He even took a trip to Iowa for the launch, only to reverse course at the last minute. Instead of starting a 2020 race, he hosted a Townhall for Need to Impeach, which has eight million members and has become the largest liberal activist group in the country.

Steyer has emerged as one of the biggest single donors in American politics over the last decade. In 2013, he founded the NextGen Climate super PAC (now called NextGen America), which contributed about $74 million to Democratic causes in the 2014 midterms, making Steyer the single biggest individual donor in American politics that a year. The group also spent $96 million in 2016 and nearly $61 million in the 2018 midterms.

According to The Post‘s Robert Costa, Steyer may already have a campaign manager lined up. Heather Hargreaves, a Democratic field organizer who worked on President Obama’s 2008 campaign and is currently executive director of NextGen America, is expected the manage the campaign, according to Costa’s sources.

The hedge fund billionaire has made climate change his central issue, besides impeaching Trump. Yet Farallon Capital, the hedge fund Steyer founded and which vaulted him to wealth, has pumped hundreds of millions into coal mines and coal power plants, The New York Times reported in 2014. Steyer sold his ownership stake in 2012 but has not cut ties completely.

“Tom Steyer made his fortune as a fossil fuels investor, and now he wants to atone for his past by forcing job-killing policies on Americans, from his war on coal to the disastrous Green New Deal,” Daniel Turner, Executive Director of Power the Future, told PJ Media on Monday. “Thankfully, the majority of Americans are unwilling to embrace Steyer or his extreme environmental views. This is the announcement nobody asked for.”

“Steyer initially had doubts about running. He should have went with his first instinct,” Turner quipped. His organization has warned about the disastrous effects of climate alarmist activism coming from Steyer specifically.

Even if Steyer does decide to launch a campaign on Tuesday, he will face a tough uphill climb.

“If he announces a White House bid on Tuesday, and wants to make the DNC debate, Tom Steyer has one week to get 1) 65,000 unique donations or 2) notch 1 percent or better in three polls. And polls in the field now don’t include his name,” The Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel tweeted.

Ouch. Worse, Steyer is considering jumping into the race as some Democrats seem headed for the exit. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) has a dying campaign, while Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) dropped out on Monday.

Then again, Trump announced his candidacy for 2016 around this time in that cycle, and Steyer’s money alone makes him a serious contender. His fundraising apparatus — with eight million members of his impeachment campaign — should not be overlooked.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.