Billionaire Tom Steyer Apparently Running For President For Some Reason

Billionaire Tom Steyer is apparently planning to enter the 2020 Democratic Presidential race.

Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has been a long time fundraiser for Democratic candidates and liberal/progressives causes and has spent the better part of the past two years engaged in a crusade to compel Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, is apparently running for President after ruling out the idea earlier this year:

Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who toyed with a 2020 presidential run before deciding against it, has told people he plans to announce that he’s entering the race for the Democratic nomination, according to three people familiar with his plans. Steyer had said in January that he was passing on a 2020 run.

Steyer held a private conference call last week to announce to people who work for Need to Impeach, NextGen America and Steyer’s Sacramento office that he was planning to run, according to one of the people.

There has been increasing chatter in recent months among those in Steyer’s circle about a potential run, according to two of the people, and one of the people said they expect him to talk a lot in his campaign about the economy given his background as a former hedge fund manager.

“He’s definitely focused on the [fact that the] economy is not as good as people are making it out to be,” said the person, who didn’t know the reason Steyer is making an about-face on his earlier decision.

“I think his heart’s in the right place. If he’s doing this, he’s got a reason behind it,” the person said. “He’s a very intelligent man.”

The person said that Steyer has gotten significantly better as a campaigner over the last year because he’s done town hall meetings, particularly attended by older Americans, and a lot of face-to-face campaigning through the impeachment campaign.

Though no senior staffing has been announced, two of the people with knowledge of Steyer’s plans expect Heather Hargreaves, who has been executive director of Steyer-founded NextGen America and has worked for Steyer for almost four years, to run the campaign. Steyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and Hargreaves declined to comment.

Tom Stever is a native Californian who received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale and his Masters of Business Administration from Stanford University. After college, Steyer spent time at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs before founding his own investment firm back home in California in 1986. By the time he left the company in 2012, that firm was managing some $20 billion in assets for clients. After stepping down from his position, Steyer became an activist for environmental causes and a fundraiser for Democratic causes and liberal issues. He has also used his personal wealth to fund a variety of philanthropic and political causes, the latter of which he has increased significantly since President Trump took office.

Given the fact that we’ve already had the first debate in the 2020 race and that the second one is scheduled for three weeks from now, Steyer’s entry into the race, even if it takes place this week,would be comparatively late and would make it less likely that he could push through the noise to become a factor in the race. Another factor that could hinder the run is that, thanks to both the late entry and the number of candidates already in the race, there are at best a limited number of Democratic activists with experience running national campaigns that Steyer can choose from to run his campaign. At the same time, though, the combination of Steyer’s own vast wealth and the fact that he has apparently developed a substantial list of potential supporters and donors through his “Need To Impeach” campaign and other initiatives means that he could have a deep well of support from which to draw as we go into the race.

With the campaign well under way, it’s hard to see exactly why Steyer thinks he needs to enter the race or what avenue he would have that could turn him into a viable candidate. After all, we all know that a billionaire with no prior political experience has no shot at winning his party’s nomination, not to mention the General Election, right?

Bueller? Bueller?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    Why shouldn’t Steyer run? Everyone else is doing it.

  2. Kathy says:

    Someone tell him impeachment doesn’t work as an issue in a presidential campaign.

  3. grumpy realist says:

    When’s the debate that’s supposed to toss out everyone under a certain percentage?

    How many “candidates” under 1% do we have at present? Are any of them actually believing they have a chance, or is this just in order to put “candidate for POTUS” on their resumes?

    (Take up knitting, guys–your chances of success are much higher, and at least you’ll get a nice sweater out of it.)

  4. James Joyner says:

    I mean, we could really use a billionaire business genius who’s good at making deals. He knows how the game is played and is so rich that nobody could bribe him. His lack of political experience would be a real asset because he’s not beholden to either party and can just cut the best deals for the American people. What could go wrong, really?

  5. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    I see what you did there.

    It would be funnier if people of a certain political persuasion did still have this as a deeply held belief and take all the current evidence as a sign that they are correct.

    But hell, some days all we have is gallows humor, right?

  6. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius: Pretty much.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist: It looks like the next debate should eliminate some:

    Second Debate
    Qualifications: A candidate will need to either have at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls or provide evidence of at least 65,000 individual donations from a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.
    July 30 & 31, 2019
    CNN Democratic Primary Debate
    Aired On: CNN
    Live Stream:
    Location: Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan
    Moderators: Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper
    Qualified Candidates: TBD

    Then the third should almost certainly eliminate more:
    Third Debate
    Qualifications: A candidate will need to either have at least 2 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 130,000 individual donations from a minimum of 400 different donors in at least 20 states.
    September 12 & 13, 2019
    ABC News Democratic Primary Debate
    Aired On: ABC, Univision
    Live Stream: ABC News Live
    Location: TBD
    Sponsors: TBD
    Moderators: TBD
    Candidates: TBD

    It looks like the 4th debate currently has the same qualifiers as the third, while I didn’t see qualifications for the later debates

  8. gVOR08 says:

    Debate criteria only eliminate them from the debates. If he’s got enough of his own money, he can stay in until the convention.

  9. al Ameda says:

    Please, yes.
    Only billionaires with too much money and free time on their hands can save us.
    We have one fake billionaire in the White House; why not a real billionaire?

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Put the American economy in the hands of a hedge fund manager–an idea whose time has come.


  11. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Kathy: You don’t think that someone can stir up a bunch of gibbering droolers screaming “LOCK HIM UP!!! among Democrats? Do you actually READ any of the comments here or just post?

  12. Teve says:

    @Kathy: Vanity Fair says he wants to run on an economic platform ‘similar to Elizabeth Warren’s’.

    So a similar platform to one which already exists, except done by an arrogant rich guy with no name recognition or proven political skills. Great.

  13. Gustopher says:

    Doug misspelled Steyer’s name at least once, but I don’t recommend fixing it. He’s just not worth a second look.

  14. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Thanks!

    (The U.K. is coming down to the “election” of the leader of the Tories, which looks to be Boris Johnson. After he gets in, I suspect the amusement factor of watching the BoJo try to deal with reality will increase considerably. Sort of like “butter, meet gigawatt laser-beam. Laser-beam, butter. “)

  15. Teve says:

    Steyer/Schultz 2020!

  16. Kathy says:

    @The abyss that is the soul of cracker:

    Do you actually READ any of the comments here or just post?


    Much as I’d like to see Dennison behind bars, and much as he may deserve it, three’s no standard of proof that would be enough for his base. None. I mean, if God Himself came down and offered irrefutable proof, the majority of his base would not believe it.

    So how do you not make it seem like payback rather than justice?

    In the abstract, this should not matter. Justice is justice, whatever some portion of the public may think about it. And since God won’t come down to deliver proof, what standard would the bulk of the GOP accept as proof of criminal actions?

    For that matter, get ready for massive cries of fraud if Dennison loses in 2020, maybe even riots.

    Why add fuel to that dumpster fire? Putting out will be taxing enough.

  17. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    That reminds me of a Babylon 5 quote by Susan Ivanova: “Our gun arrays are now fixed on your ship. They will fire the instant you come into range. You will find their power most impressive…for a few seconds.”

  18. Andrew M. says:

    Why again do you care about his tiny…base? So terrified of a bunch of Lazy Boy Couch Potato Rude Boys. Bizzare to fixate on that. Why bother again, with enforcing the rule of law, because the other side might, oh no, riot, so let’s do nothing. Weird concept, without any merit, to wave a white flag of surrender, to crooks, because they might get upset & throw a silly jailable tantrum.