Tom Steyer, the Democratic billionaire impeach-Trump activist who not so long ago vowed to keep his own name out of the 2020 running, has changed his mind, tossing his hat and $100 million of his own money into the ring.
Hollywood doesn’t seem impressed. “No Tom, just… no,” tweeted Yvette Nicole Brown.
Granted, it’s early days – early minutes, actually – but the response on social media to Steyer’s decision doesn’t seem encouraging.
“We need to stop the practice of billionaires trying to buy elections,” Cynthia Nixon tweeted. “@TomSteyer, think of all the good your $100 million could do for the environment, rather than trying to muscle your way into an already over-crowded and very promising presidential field.”
Tweeted Brown, “No Tom, just… no. This does NOT help! Why don’t they get it?! None of these rich dudes seem to get it! We have 20+ candidates! Many are great. Three or four are exemplary. We don’t need you there @TomSteyer! We NEED you helping w/senate wins! C’mon, man! Come ON!”
And then Brown followed up with: “*sigh* I like @TomSteyer, I really do. But this? No, Tom. Just no. *sigh* And I mean ALL the SIGHS that have EVER been sighed! Every. Single. One.”
Steyer’s reversal (he said in January he wouldn’t run) comes just a day after Rep. Eric Swalwell dropped out of the race, and as public sentiment and Hollywood commentary seems to be moving against the crowdedness of the Democratic field.
“Get the f*ck out,” Bill Maher advised candidates a couple weeks ago on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, peeved over MSNBC’s two-night, 20-candidate Democratic debate. Holding up photos of 10 Dems, Maher suggested the self-axing of John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, Kirsten Gillibrand, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke and Bill de Blasio. (For the latter, Maher broke out in song: “Start spreading the news, you’re leaving today!”)
Early media reaction to Steyer’s decision today seems likely to follow Maher’s lead. A headline on New York Magazine’s website: “Tom Steyer Mulls Wasting Millions on Doomed 2020 Bid.” Washington Post opinion writer Helaine Olen wrote, “It is hard to imagine how anyone at this point could look at the sea of contenders for the Democratic presidential nod and think the party needs one more…But never underestimate the arrogance of billionaires.”
Steyer, a former hedge fund investor, has become a familiar face on cable news with his calls – early and often – for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. In a four-minute video announcing his candidacy, Steyer said, “Americans are deeply disappointed and hurt by the way they’re treated by what they think is the power elite in Washington, D.C. And that goes across party lines and it goes across geography.”
The video – watch it below – includes images of Trump, Paul Manafort, Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Epstein. In addition to condemning Washington corruption, Steyer has endorsed an “economic bill of rights,” higher wages, health care, affordable education and housing and rights to clean air and water, among other progressive stances.
Friend and now rival Bernie Sanders said on MSNBC today, “I have known Tom for a number of years, and I like Tom personally. But I do have to say, as somebody who has received 2 million campaign contributions — averaging, I believe, $19 a person — I am a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power. So I like Tom. He is a good guy, he is a friend of mine, but I’m not a great fan of billionaires getting involved in the political process.”
In a series of tweets, Steyer explained his decision: “It’s true. I’m running for president. There’s a breakdown in Washington DC, and I don’t mean just Donald Trump. I’m talking about corporate money and our broken political system. Through the important work of @NextGenAmerica and @Need2Impeach, which I will continue to support, I’ve focused on registering & turning out the #youthvote, and pressuring Congress to hold this president accountable by beginning impeachment proceedings. But it’s not enough. Our country has been corrupted––openly––while politicians put corporate profits over the needs of their constituents, and focus on getting re-elected over doing what’s right. I’ve taken on corporations and WON by going directly to the people. And I know we can do it again. When we come together, we can never be defeated. We can fix our democracy, and make sure it works for ALL Americans. We can elect new leaders at the local, state, and federal level. We can take back the Senate. But we can only do it together. Let’s take our democracy back from corporations and special interests, and give it to the people––the way it was always intended. I’m excited to meet you on the campaign trail soon.”
Within hours of Steyer’s declaration, NBC News reported that the billionaire had reserved about $1 million in TV ads in four primary and caucus states.
Here is Steyer’s video, followed by a sampling of reactions.