Billionaire Democratic donor and environmentalist Tom Steyer will not run for any political office in 2018, instead outlining plans to sink tens of millions of dollars into an aggressive effort to flip the House majority to the Democrats.
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“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help save our country. And I believe the most important task for me, the task which I feel called to do, is organizing and mobilizing America’s voters,” Steyer said during a Monday morning press conference in Washington, D.C., at an office space overlooking the Capitol.
“I’m not going to run for office in 2018, that’s not where I can make the biggest difference.”
He plans to channel at least $30 million toward his advocacy group, NextGen America, in order to build out a massive army meant to boost millennial voter turnout across 10 states. Democrats will need to flip at least 24 seats in 2018 to win back the majority.
Steyer has long flirted with political bids of his own — he decided against running to replace retiring Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerPolls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday Establishment Democrats rallying behind Biden MORE (D-Calif.) in 2016 and his name had been rumored as a potential candidate in California’s gubernatorial race or as a primary challenger to Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe MORE (D-Calif) this year.
His decision to forego a bid in 2018 makes state Sen. Kevin de León Feinstein’s only serious Democratic primary challenger right now. And it keeps the crowded gubernatorial primary field in the state static for now.
The environmentalist is one of the wealthiest Democratic donors in politics — he spent more than $91 million during the 2016 campaign, including donations to candidates, super PACs and NextGen America.
And he’s blanketed the television airwaves this past year with his “Need to Impeach” ad campaign calling on Congress to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, on which he’s spent more than $20 million.
Republicans were quick to pan the effort, pointing to the less-than-unified Democratic front on his impeachment push.
“Tom Steyer can light as much of his money on fire as he wants, but doesn’t change that Democrats like Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE view him as a distraction,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement.
“If Democrats’ message for 2018 is a baseless impeachment threat that the majority of voters disagree with, they’re going to lose.”
—Updated at 2:31 p.m.