Tom Steyer, the top all-time Democratic donor, enters presidential field

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Tom Steyer (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Democrats’ top campaign donor, is officially entering the Democratic field for President.

Steyer, a consistent mega-donor to Democrats cycle after cycle, is leading efforts to impeach President Donald Trump and to combat climate change by pumping millions of dollars into races and advertising efforts through his PAC, Need to Impeach, and nonprofit organization NextGen America. 

He leads every other liberal donor, including Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, contributing almost $248 million cumulatively to candidates, PACs and other political organizations. Much of that cash goes toward PACs and organizations that spend money independently of candidates, including attack ads on Republicans.

Steyer has previously considered running for office himself, floating the idea of running for U.S. House in 2016 and California governor in 2018. He made a trip to Iowa earlier this year where he was expected to announce his 2020 presidential bid. Instead he said he was not going to run in 2020, opting to use his platform to continue calling for the impeachment of President Trump. Steyer didn’t immediately give a clear reason why he reversed his decision not to run.

“Almost every single major intractable problem, at the back of it you see a big money interest for whom stopping progress, stopping justice is really important to their bottom line,” Steyer said in a video on Twitter formally announcing his 2020 campaign.

Steyer’s personal fortune could help him establish campaign infrastructure in an already crowded Democratic field, but his late announcement could cost him valuable early media attention and staffing. According to Politico, NextGen America has been bleeding staffers to other 2020 campaigns, most notably to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has centered his campaign around climate change.

Following his announcement Tuesday, Steyer said he would resign his administration roles with both NextGen America and Need to Impeach, but will still pump $50 million into the organizations during his run. By resigning the posts, it appears Steyer is trying to avoid an ethical dilemma considering both organizations target Trump, who is now a political opponent. 

It’s also likely that, due to his relatively late announcement, Steyer will not make the cut for the next round of Democratic debates as the deadline is this coming Monday.Steyer was the second-largest Democratic donor during the 2018 cycle and one of the top political advertisers on Facebook where he has spent $4.5 million on Facebook ads as of July 7.

Edit: Story was updated to include Steyer’s plans with his outside groups.

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