Billionaire political activist Tom Steyer announces he’s running for president

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Tom Steyer speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. — Gage Skidmore

Less than 24 hours after one California Democrat, Rep. Eric Swalwell, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, another, Tom Steyer, announced he is joining it.

“The other Democratic candidates for President have many great ideas that will absolutely move our country forward, but we won’t be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy,” Steyer, a retired hedge fund manager, said in a press release announcing his candidacy on Tuesday morning.

Steyer, who is a billionaire, has been active in Democrat politics, most notably as a fundraiser, since the 1980s. In the past decade, he has been one of the top donors to Democratic candidates. Since retiring from his hedge fund in 2010, Steyer has also created two PACs.

He started NextGen Climate Action, a PAC dedicated to progressive environmental policies, in 2013. In 2017, Steyer changed the group’s name to NextGen America, and turned its focus to registering new voters and increasing voter turnout among young voters.

Also in 2017, Steyer created Need To Impeach, a PAC pushing for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Steyer has never held a political office, or run for an elective office, before.

According to Steyer’s press release, he will focus “on solving two major crises — reforming our broken political system and saving our planet from the ravages of climate change.”

“If we can reduce the influence of corporate money in our democracy, and start to address the devastating impacts of climate change, we can unlock the full potential of the American people and finally solve the many challenges facing our country,” Steyer said.

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), which monitors political fundraising and spending, reported in January, “Steyer, along with his wife Kathryn, is second in all-time lifetime political donations, which includes contributions to federal candidates, PACs and party committees as well as outside money groups and federal 527s. The couple has given more than $238.5 million as of Jan. 8, 2019.”

Only Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have contributed more money to federal candidates and political groups, according to CRP.

Steyer does not have any Iowa events currently scheduled on his official website, but he has made several trips to Iowa in recent years. On Jan. 9, Steyer held a press conference in Des Moines to announce he would not run for president. The Des Moines Register reported, “Steyer promised to commit ‘100 percent of my time, effort and resources’ to strengthening his organization, Need To Impeach.”

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