Thomas Fahr Steyer, a California-based billionaire and leftist activist focusing on environmental issues, is a candidate for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination. Steyer, a longtime leftist philanthropist and prolific donor to Democratic candidates and causes, is by far the wealthiest candidate in the 2020 Democratic field. Steyer’s political activism has focused disproportionately on environmentalism and global warming/climate change issues, although he has the political profile of an across-the-board, full-spectrum progressive/leftist. As the most recent entrant into the 2020 Democratic presidential field, he does not yet register in current polling for the nomination.
Steyer, who has a bachelor degree from Yale University and a MBA from Stanford University, is the founder of San Francisco-based hedge fund Farallon Capital and the co-founder of Oakland-based Beneficial State Bank. In 2012, Steyer stepped down from Farallon in order to focus more of his time on environmentalist/alternative energy advocacy. In addition to his involvement with Beneficial State Bank, which focuses on community development, Steyer has been involved with other leftist philanthropic causes — including his 2015 founding of the Fair Shake Commission on Income Inequality and Middle Class Opportunity, which promotes reducing income inequality. But above all, Steyer has spent more time and resources on environmentalist activism. In 2013, for example, Steyer founded NextGen America, an environmentalist nonprofit and political action committee.
Steyer, who would become the first president with a Jewish parent if successfully elected, is married and has four children. He has an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion, and has committed self-funding his 2020 presidential bid to the tune of $100 million.
Electoral History: Steyer has never sought political office prior to his current campaign for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination. However, he has a lengthy history of involvement in partisan Democratic causes. Steyer has been a prolific fundraiser for many leading Democrats over the past few decades, including for Barack Obama in 2008. Steyer also spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and reportedly considered a 2018 run for California governor.
On The Issues: Perhaps more so than any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, Steyer’s candidacy revolves around one core issue: Environmentalism. He has made global warming prevention, opposition to the oil and natural gas industries, and a concomitant greater government role in investing in alternative energy sources the central tenets of his public activist profile. Steyer has a less prolific track record and history of commentary on other issues, but all available evidences points toward his being an across-the-board, full-spectrum progressive/leftist. For example, his 2020 campaign website also touts his work in “promot[ing] social justice and increas[ing] participation in our democracy through voter registration and grassroots organizing.”
Constitution: Steyer has a very thin public record of commenting on legal and judicial issues. He has, however, been a prominent advocate for impeaching President Donald Trump. Steyer has stated that he opposes Citizens United v. F.E.C., the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 political speech-affirming case. He also supports Roe v. Wade, thus indicating a belief in the so-called constitutional “right to privacy” and “right to abortion.” Steyer has suggested sympathy for gun control measures that would undermine Americans’ Second Amendment rights, and he also supports a robust role for the federal government in economic regulation that is consistent with mainstream legal progressivism.
Economy: Steyer supports raising personal taxes and strongly opposed President Trump’s 2017 tax cut law. In his 2020 campaign announcement video, Steyer lamented how corporations have an “unlimited ability to participate in politics, [which] will skew everything because they only care about profits.” His anti-corporation message is also decidedly populist, as Steyer has also said that “the only way for us to solve the urgent problems facing our country is to loosen the stranglehold that corporations have over our politicians and return political power to the American people.” Like many of his 2020 Democratic rivals, Steyer also supports raising the federal minimum wage. Steyer, though a billionaire, vocally opposes income inequality.
Health Care: Steyer supports “Medicare for All,” which would effectively amount to a single-payer health insurance system and a de facto governmental takeover of health insurance and imposition of socialized medicine in America. He has been critical of the perceived corporate greed of large pharmaceutical companies.
Immigration: Steyer has been harshly critical of the Trump administration’s attempts to secure our border amidst a hitherto unprecedented influx there of Central American migrants. Steyer donated last year to leftist/open-borders legal groups at the southern border working to assist illegal aliens facing deportation. He addresses illegal immigration in starkly pro-illegal alien — and not rule-of-law — terminology. Steyer appears to support a pathway to citizenship for much of America’s illegal alien populace.
Foreign Policy: Steyer has a thin track record on foreign policy, although he has been critical of President Trump’s foreign policy approach. He has also taken the standard leftist approach to Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s now-infamous report: Accusing President Trump of obstruction of justice.
Abortion: Steyer is emphatically pro-abortion.
Guns: Steyer has founded organizations have worked closely, at times, with anti-Second Amendment organizations. He is largely seen as sympathetic to gun control initiatives.