Tom Steyer, a California-based billionaire who has poured millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns, will not run for president and will instead focus on his effort to impeach President Donald Trump.
"I will be dedicating 100% of my time, effort, and resources to one cause: working for Mr. Trump's impeachment and removal from office," Steyer told reporters in Des Moines on Wednesday. "I am not running for president at this time. Instead, I am strengthening my commitment to Need to Impeach."
He announced that his group Need to Impeach will soon hold town halls, a summit in Washington, DC, and launch a public education campaign.
Steyer said he will be making a $40 million investment for the effort, news that was first reported soon before the announcement by the New York Times.
Steyer has for weeks given the impression that he would decide to join what's expected to be a sprawling Democratic primary field. He recently posted job listings on LinkedIn for high-ranking positions on a potential campaign, and he had given allies indications in recent weeks that he would run.
This isn't the first time Steyer has hinted at a political campaign and not actually launched one. There was speculation in 2017 that Steyer would run for governor in California, or for one of the state's Senate seats, after deciding against running for Senate in 2016. He ultimately announced he would not run for either position, alluding to something more to come, saying last January, "I'm not going to run for office in 2018 — that's not where I can make the biggest difference.”
He said Wednesday it would be "premature" to make any assessments of Democrats who may join the primary.
Steyer, a hedge fund manager, first entered politics as an environmental activist, founding NextGen Climate in 2013 to push for policy that would address climate change and support candidates who backed related policy. But he broadened his approach after the 2016 elections, rebranding NextGen Climate as NextGen America to take on a wider mission to counter Trump. He told BuzzFeed News at the time that he wanted to work against Trump's "barrage against Americans and American rights."
He began airing TV ads, starring himself, in 2017 through Need to Impeach, making the case for why Trump should be removed from office. And even though impeachment has not been broadly popular with Democrats in Washington, Steyer was one of the top donors on the right or left during the 2018 midterm elections, contributing nearly $71 million to Democratic candidates and causes. Steyer, through NextGen, also held Democratic debates during the primaries in what he called "an attempt ... to make it easier for young voters to get a sense of who the candidates are."
Just this week, Steyer spent over $2 million in TV time through Need to Impeach for his impeachment ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — four early states in the 2020 nominating contest.