Tom Steyer, billionaire hedge fund manager and environmental activist from San Francisco, has announced he is joining the already-crowded field of Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination.
Touting an agenda to end corporate influence in politics and fight for aggressive climate-change initiatives, Steyer, 62, says he will fund his own campaign with over $100 million of his own money.
His first challenge will be to break into the next round of debates, set to take place at the end of July. To qualify, Steyer would need to reach at least 1% support in three separate polls sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, no later than July 16. As an alternative, Steyer would need to raise donations from at least 65,000 contributors.
His late start may be a calculated move, but he will need build momentum quickly. This week, his campaign began placing ads in four key primary states, including South Carolina, where Steyer is planning to make his first campaign stop this week.
In his announcement video Tuesday, Steyer professed that “corporate money has corrupted our democracy and stripped Americans of our ability to determine our own future.” He continues, “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’s statements, while compelling, may pose some irony, as Steyer himself has been one of the top lifetime political donors to Democrats. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he and his wife Kathryn are ranked second in all-time lifetime political donations, having donated nearly $240 million as of Jan. 8, 2019.
More recently, Steyer has lobbied heavily for Democrats to pursue impeachment of President Trump. He pledged to donate $40 million to the effort, though Democrats have all but abandoned the idea.