Tom Steyer, the billionaire liberal activist and megadonor, has spent years laboring to boost his profile.
Despite helping lead successful ballot drives in California, the hundreds of millions of dollars he sunk into failed Democratic efforts over the last few election cycles put him at risk of managing a losing brand.
This fall, however, he joined in the revelry after helping elect Democrat Ralph Northam as governor of Virginia. Now, he’s put himself at the center of a nationwide drive to impeach President Donald Trump, garnering more than 3.2 million signatures, and, perhaps for the first time, arriving at a topic that’s magnifying his voice while at the same time boosting his credibility with everyday Americans.
All of this begs a question: Has Steyer, who was agonizing over a run against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, after years of considering various elected offices, found a more fitting way to advance his advocacy? The impeachment campaign has landed him a rush of attention and includes three TV ads, with a new one airing on CNN and BET.
Steyer and more recently a source close to him insist he hasn’t decided yet on the Senate. He expects to make a decision shortly after the new year, the source said. Yet from the public approbation he’s gained for the impeachment effort, the 60-year-old billionaire may well decide he can have more immediate impact on the direction of the country from the outside looking in than from the inside looking out.
On Monday, he again responded to elected members of his own party who argue his impeachment push, given that Democrats lack the votes to move forward, amounts to an unhelpful distraction.
“You know, that’s amazing because it’s overwhelmingly supported by Democrats. So the fact of the matter is, what you see is a bunch of people from inside Washington, D.C., who find this threatening,” Steyer said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
“So I think that’s the distinction you have to understand is: there are the people inside the Beltway and then there are the human beings who are American citizens, and the distinction is very clear,” he added.
Steyer on Wednesday will be joined at the National Press Club in Washington by constitutional lawyers, academics and free speech activists to talk about the legal grounds for an impeachment investigation.
Welcome to the AM Alert, your morning rundown on California policy and politics. To receive it regularly, please sign up here.
WORTH REPEATING: “I certainly understand why one would seek out Patty Glaser. But given the circumstances, Glaser Weil and I have mutually agreed to suspend our affiliation, effective immediately, during the pendency of this matter.” – state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, severing ties with his law firm, which is representing Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who is being accused of sexual assault.
TAX PROTESTS: Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican from Elk Grove, may have voted against the GOP tax bill in the House, but that isn’t shielding him from the raft of protests taking place this week. Beginning before 10 a.m. at his district office in Roseville, the Sacramento Labor Council and other liberal groups such as Sierra Forward will hold a demonstration over the tax bill.
Organizers say the event outside McClintock’s office is meant to encourage him to take notice “and to please fix some of the more egregious things in the bill.”
“This is a real show of how much more momentum there is against Tom McClintock,” said Suzanne Eckes-Wahl, a spokeswoman for Sierra Forward.
The fresh wave of unrest comes as a new round of voting is planned for the tax overhaul after its pre-dawn passage in the Senate. On a conference call with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown said he views his role as helping “communicate the fraudulent and nefarious character of this tax bill.”
Reps. Darrell Issa of Vista and Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, also will face upcoming protests despite opposing the plan, as will the 11 California House Republicans who voted in favor of it. House Majority PAC, a Democratic group, plans to roll out its mobile billboard Wednesday highlighting what it characterized as Rep. Steve Knight’s “unforgivable” vote for the “terrible GOP tax scheme.”