WASHINGTON ― Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer won’t run
for political office this year, putting his focus instead on
helping Democrats win control of the House in the 2018
“I am willing to do whatever it takes to help save our
country,” Steyer said on Monday at a press conference near
Capitol Hill. To that end, he announced plans to invest
$30 million to boost voter turnout among younger Americans.
(Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)
The initiative will be run by an arm of NextGen America, the
political organization he founded that supports progressive
positions on climate change, immigration and health care. The
group said it aims to conduct “the largest youth vote
organizing effort in American history.”
As one of the Democratic Party’s top donors, Steyer was
discussed as a potential candidate in either the race for
California governor or Senate this year. His moves opposing the
administration have also spurred speculation about a
possible presidential run in 2020.
Steyer is one of the most prominent advocates of impeachment
proceedings against President Donald Trump. Last
year, he collected millions of signatures calling for
Trump’s impeachment and paid for
billboards in New York’s Times Square as part of a $20
million ad campaign urging Congress to act.
“My fight is not just in California, my fight is in removing
Donald Trump from office, and from power,” Steyer said
Monday, adding that he believed that the president had
committed eight impeachable offenses so far.
Steyer said his group would help elect Democrats to the House
even if they do not necessarily back impeaching Trump.“We are
not going to have a litmus test on impeachment,” he said.
The news is a blow to Republicans, who hoped to use the push
for impeachment to drive a wedge between wary incumbent
Democratic lawmakers and the party’s more liberal base.
Still, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee
characterized Steyer as a hindrance to Democratic prospects
“Tom Steyer can light as much of his money on fire as he wants,
but that doesn’t change that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi
view him as a
distraction” because of the impeachment issues, Michael
Ahrens said, referring to the House minority leader from
California. “If Democrats’ message for 2018 is a baseless
impeachment threat that the majority of voters disagree with,
they’re going to lose.”
Democrats believe turnout among young Americans will be one of
the keys to retaking at least one chamber of Congress in 2018
and thus stopping the Republican legislative agenda. The
party saw a major voter surge in
college areas in recent elections. Young people came
out in droves to help elect Democrats Doug Jones to the Senate
in Alabama and Ralph Northam to Virginia’s governorship.
For this year’s midterm campaign, Steyer’s group set goals of
registering 250,000 young voters and helping to elect
progressive House candidates in at least 10 states. NextGen
said plans on hiring 200 full-time staff to organize on more
than 300 college campuses.
“In 10 months, God willing, the people of America are going to
send a wave across the nation,” Steyer said at his press
conference. “This tide will wash away the stain of the Trump
Steyer did not address whether he had plans for political
office beyond 2018. He also dodged a question about a new
potential Democratic presidential candidate ― Oprah Winfrey.
The talk show host’s powerful speech at the Golden Globes
awards ceremony on Sunday night set off speculation about a
possible campaign challenging Trump in 2020 ― CNN reported that
Winfrey was “actively thinking”
about jumping into the race.
Steyer praised Winfrey’s speech as “fantastic,” but stressed he
is concentrating on “November 2018.”
This story has been updated with comment from a spokesman
from the Republican National Committee.
- This article originally appeared on