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Former Trustee, billionaire investor Tom Steyer MBA ’83 announces 2020 presidential bid

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Billionaire hedge fund manager, philanthropist and environmental activist Tom Steyer M.B.A. ’83 announced on Tuesday that he is entering the 2020 Democratic primary, despite declaring in January that he was not planning on running. 

Steyer is entering as the 25th candidate in the 2020 Democratic Primary Elections, vying for the nomination in a field including former Vice President Joe Biden, California Senator Kamala Harris, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker B.A. ’91, M.A. ’92.

A source with insight into the decision told CNN that Steyer announced his bid to members of his grassroots activism organizations Need to Impeach and Next Gen, during a June conference call in which he noted he would need to step down from the groups in order to run for office. Previously, Steyer has considered running for California governor in 2018 and for a Senate seat in 2016.

Steyer has not shied away from liberal politics, spending tens of millions of dollars in funding other candidates and causes, including organizations that focus on combating climate change and impeaching President Donald Trump. In January, Steyer claimed that focusing his attention on impeaching Trump was his motive for ending his own campaign to become president. 

“I will be dedicating 100% of my time, effort and resources to one cause: working for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office,” Steyer told CNN.      

Two sources in communication with Steyer told Politico that those who knew Steyer well have been suspecting his announcement and that the main policy issue he may push during his campaign will be centered around economics, given his background in finance and investing. In his campaign announcement, Steyer said one of the focal points of his campaign will be reducing the influence of corporations in politics. 

“The other Democratic candidates for President have many great ideas that will absolutely move our country forward, but we won’t be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy,” he said in the announcement, adding that he will also be addressing climate change and the opioid crisis.  

Though Steyer has not announced his campaign staff, two sources close to Seyer told Politico that they expect Heather Hargreaves, executive director of NextGen America, will take on the job of campaign manager. When Steyer said in January that he would not run, the political staff he had been building over the years joined other campaigns, such as those of Washington Governor Jay Inslee and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke. 

Steyer received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in economics and political science and was captain of the men’s soccer team. At Stanford, he was at the top ten-percent of his graduating class, becoming an Arjay Miller Scholar at the Graduate School of Business and served at large on the Board of Trustees for ten years beginning in 2007. In 1986, he founded Farallon Capital Management, a hedge fund that manages funds for university endowments, foundations, and high net-worth individuals, three years after graduating from Stanford. Along with his wife, Kat Taylor J.D./M.B.A. ’96, Steyer established The Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford Law School, which aims to build sustainable finance and policy resources to confront climate change. 

Steyer has begun reaching voters face-to-face through town halls and the impeachment effort. Steyer is announcing his candidacy three weeks prior to the second Democratic Primary Debates where only 20 of the candidates will be able to take the stage. Though Steyer may receive adequate funding to participate, he will likely fail to meet polling requirements. While Steyer is entering the field, California Congressman Eric Swalwell ended his campaign after failing to get any traction following the first debate. More candidates are expected to withdraw in the coming weeks. 

Contact Leily Rezvani at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu

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