Billionaire activist Tom Steyer announced Tuesday morning he will, in fact, join the Democratic presidential field after indicating earlier this year that he would sit out the race and instead support Democratic Senate candidates. Steyer has been a vocal proponent of initiating impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump and a critic of the Democratic leadership, pouring millions into TV ads, as well as his two political organizations, Need to Impeach and NextGen America. The 62-year-old former hedge fund manager has reportedly grown dissatisfied with the Democratic field, prompting him to change his mind and enter the race on a platform based on climate change and economic justice.
“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 said in a statement released Tuesday. “As an outsider, I’ve led grassroots efforts that have taken on big corporations and won results for people. That’s not something you see a lot of from Washington these days. That’s why I’m running for President.”
Steyer sold his hedge fund Farallon Capital in 2012 and is worth an estimated $1.6 billion according to Forbes. He has used that money to support Democratic candidates and causes in his home state of California, as well as nationally, and has considered runs for office previously in California—including governor and the U.S. Senate—but has never been a candidate for office until now. Despite his inexperience, Steyer’s history as a donor and activist with grassroots contacts gives him a formidable base on which to build a potential political following. The first thing the new candidate will have to do to gain any traction in the field is get on the debate stage. The second Democratic debate is set to be held at the end of the month and Steyer will have to amass 65,000 donors in the next week to meet the entry requirements laid out by the Democratic National Committee.