Billionaire investment banker-turned-radical environmentalist Tom Steyer has managed to raise just enough money, after spending more than $40 million of his own, to qualify for the Democratic debate stage.
Steyer finally reached the threshold for polling, ticking 5% in a recent Quinnipiac national poll of South Carolina voters — one of the few polls that the Democratic National Committee recognizes for qualifying for the debate stage — and his campaign announced Tuesday morning that they met the 200,000 individual donor threshold, the other mandated qualifier.
Steyer has blanketed the airwaves in key states, and especially in New Hampshire where, in some places, his commercials play an astounding seventeen times per hour, according to Politico.
“Steyer has massively outspent other Democratic candidates on social media in an effort to gain traction in polls and ensure he makes the debate stage. But the recoiling of some New Hampshire voters suggests there are limits to the strategy — Michael Bloomberg beware. Indeed, some residents feel like they can’t touch a piece of technology without seeing his face,” the Washington, D.C.-based newsmagazine reported about Steyer’s New Hampshire operation.
It’s working on someone. Steyer, perhaps the most well-funded presidential candidate in history, has managed to convince nearly a quarter million potential voters to contribute to his operation.
According to the LA Times, Steyer’s campaign financial disclosures list an astounding $47 million dollars in expenditures, mostly ad purchasing. Steyer technically “raised” $49 million but the vast majority of that sum came from his own personal fortune, which is significant, even though he stars in his own commercials, complaining about how billionaires and the elite have a stranglehold on the government and the electoral process.
“The hedge fund manager turned eco-warrior, who has a fortune worth about $1.6 billion, announced his candidacy in July after saying earlier he was not going to run,” the LAT reports. “He has donated $47.6 million to his campaign and raised an additional $2 million, according to the FEC reports.”
Steyer’s money is devoted, almost exclusively, to earning himself a spot on the debate stage, “including $15.6 million on media ad buys, $14.8 million on digital ads and $3.7 million on direct mail, according to the disclosure forms. Hundreds of thousands of dollars more were spent on production costs. Steyer’s spending led several of his rivals to accuse him of trying to buy a spot on the debate stage.”
It earned him a wide base of support in South Carolina and, apparently, New Hampshire, where he’s managed to eke out enough popularity to score “at least 4 percent support in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) or 6 percent in two early state surveys,” per The Hill.
He’s the seventh Democrat to earn a spot. The others, according to The Hill, are “former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).”
Steyer’s campaign was overjoyed.
“After terrific performances in the last two debates and a tremendous amount of earned media over the last month, Tom continues his surge in the early state polls which has led to an increased amount of donors over the last few weeks,” they said in a statement. “His message of ending the corporate takeover of our government and bringing democracy back to the American people continues to resonate with voters as they see him as the best candidate to go up against Trump.”