Jason Hopkins on April 17, 2018
In yet another sign Tom Steyer could be preparing for a 2020 presidential run, the billionaire activist is set to visit Iowa in May to headline a Democratic fundraiser and host a series of town halls events.
Steyer will be hosting town halls in Des Moines on May 8 and Cedar Rapids on May 10. The liberal mega-donor will also headline a big-name fundraiser, the Iowa House Democrats House Builders Dinner, on May 9 in Des Moines. While he has been highly involved in progressive causes across the country, next month’s visit will mark the first time since before the 2016 presidential election that Steyer has been active in The Hawkeye State — a prime destination spot for political bigwigs mulling a run for the White House.
The upcoming Iowa visit is the latest in what has been a flurry of activity for the California hedge-fund-manager-turned liberal activist.
With an estimated net worth of well over $1 billion, Steyer has used his riches to propel Democratic campaigns and environmental causes. During the last two election cycles, he burned through more than $163 million of his own money. Many of the candidates he financially supported, by way of his NextGen America political action committee, went on to lose. Undeterred by his past failures at the ballot box, he has continued to pledge millions in an effort to influence public debate and topple his nemesis: President Donald Trump.
Since the 2016 election, the liberal mega-donor has made the impeachment of Trump his number one priority. Steyer has vowed to spend $30 million this election cycle to flip control of the House of Representatives. His effort is not simply meant to give the Democratic Party control of a legislative body but is also a crucial part of his plan to begin Trump’s impeachment proceedings. According to Steyer, Democratic control of the lower chamber of Congress is necessary to begin this process. He has since launched “Need to Impeach,” an organization solely focused on removing Trump from the White House.
In fact, this effort is a major reason why Steyer will be visiting Iowa next month. His town halls in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids will focus on conjuring up grassroots support to impeach Trump and pressure Democratic lawmakers to follow suit. Steyer is attacking Rep. David Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat, for not supporting an impeachment resolution earlier this year.
“Those who condemn Trump but do not back their words with action are enabling the damage he is inflicting on our country,” Steyer said in a statement Monday. “Representative Loebsack should explain why he is acting against his constituents’ wishes by voting no on impeachment. The people of Iowa deserve elected leaders who refuse to back down on our shared principles.”
Steyer’s tactics, however, have brought him at odds with other Democratic operatives who believe his push for impeachment may be a step too far. David Axelrod, the man who successfully managed both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, took to Twitter on April 8 to say Democrats should not focus on impeachment out of “principle” and normalizing such a threat is detrimental to our democracy.
Dems should NOT commit to impeachment unless & until there’s a demonstrable case for one.
It is not just a matter of politics. It’s a matter of principle.
If we “normaiize” impeachment as a political tool, it will be another hammer blow to our democracy.https://t.co/vTcaDfknlC
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 8, 2018
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Unfazed, Steyer responded later that day by claiming Trump has already committed impeachable offenses.
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) April 8, 2018
The disagreement highlighted the sharp divide between establishment voices within the Democratic Party and its more ardent forces. Other operatives in the party fear growing talks of impeachment could backfire by energizing Trump supporters to hit the polls this mid-term season — something the GOP has already capitalized on. Several Republicans, including the president himself, turned the subject into a rallying cry for conservatives.
Steyer’s Iowa visit is fueling more speculation about his political ambitions. Many consider his massive campaign expenditures in the 2014 and 2016 cycles as a stepping stone to a run for office himself. The liberal mega-donor was viewed as a top contender for the 2018 California gubernatorial race, but he ultimately turned it down. While the liberal billionaire has chosen to remain a donor this year, he has noticeably left the door open for 2020.
“As I’ve said repeatedly, I am willing to do whatever it takes to save our country,” Steyer said in a statement to reporters on January 8. “We are all in through November 6, 2018 … We really don’t have the ability to know what’s going to happen after that.”
Believing his harsh brand of politics to be toxic to general election voters, many Republican strategists welcome the idea of the Steyer presidential campaign.
“Tom Steyer and Keith Ellison are ring leaders of the New Left that is undermining our American values. As a presidential candidate, Tom Steyer would easily secure our Commander in Chief’s re-election. Many consider Tom Steyer to be a domestic extremist threat because of his record and background,” Oregon GOP consultant Jonathan Lockwood said in a statement Tuesday to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Like GOP operatives in states across the country, Lockwood is working in an environment Steyer’s big money increasingly influences.
The California billionaire shoved his way into Oregon politics this year to push his climate agenda onto the state legislature. He spent thousands to support a carbon cap and pricing plan. Most of his climate-oriented activity is made through NextGen America, a political action committee he founded and funds.
He has conducted similar operations across the U.S.
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