Tom Steyer, and his digital team, reconsidering plans to run for President of the United States

POLITICO is out with a story today that billionaire political activity Tom Steyer, who, in January 2019, declined to run for President of the United States, is reconsidering his decision.

Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who toyed with a 2020 presidential run before deciding against it, has told people he plans to announce that he’s entering the race for the Democratic nomination, according to three people familiar with his plans. Steyer had said in January that he was passing on a 2020 run.

Steyer held a private conference call last week to announce to people who work for Need to Impeach, NextGen America and Steyer's Sacramento office that he was planning to run, according to one of the people.

Mr. Steyer is one of the savviest political entrepreneurs I have ever seen. The way he architected the independent-but-integrated financial, legal, and technology infrastructure underpinning his network of political & civic organizations is genius. He has independently built a lasting campaign infrastructure to rival any of the world’s major political parties.

In March 2018, The Daily Beast profiled Steyer’s growing “Death Star” digital and political operation:

What Steyer is doing is acquiring the equivalent of prime political real estate. Through his self-funded Need to Impeach campaign, he has now built an email list of more than 5.1 million members, a total that one former presidential campaign manager called “staggering” and a top digital adviser called “one of the biggest Democratic lists out there.”

Note: That 5.1 million person email list figure does not include the email lists of NextGen Climate Action, a Steyer-controlled political action committee focused on addressing the climate crisis that raised more than $16 million in the 2018 Election Cycle.

In a POLITICO story from January 2019, the Maggie Severns laid out the staggering scale and reach of Steyer’s effort:

Steyer spent $120 million between his political organizations during the 2018 midterms, and had close to 1,000 staff members during the peak of the election cycle. During the government shutdown, the group was adding 25,000 new names a day to its pro-impeachment email list.

What Steyer is doing on the digital front is nothing short of game-changing. The magnitude of his investment, the consistency of his messaging & engagement, and the longevity of his commitment are simply unparalleled in the political space. If today’s POLITICO story is accurate (and it feels truthy), I would expect him to immediately vault to the top of the 2020 Democratic field. 

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