Billionaire Tom Steyer drops out of presidential race

Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer announced Saturday night that he was ending his campaign for the Democratic nomination after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary.

“I said if I didn’t see a path to winning that I would suspend my campaign, and honestly, I don’t see a path where I can win the presidency,” Steyer said at an event in Columbia, adding that he would “of course” be supporting the eventual nominee, because they’re all “a million times better than Trump.”

“When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window,” he continued. “I will find that window and crawl through it with you, I promise you that. I love you very much. This has been a great experience, I have zero regrets. Meeting you and the rest of the American people is the highlight of my life.”

Steyer had spent over $22 million in South Carolina, far more than his competitors, but he may not secure a single delegate from the state, after finishing third behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. He also invested heavily in Nevada, but finished a disappointing fifth in last weekend’s caucuses, with just 4.7 percent of the vote. Steyer spent $253 million of his personal fortune on the race as of the end of January.

Tom Steyer at a town hall meeting on rural healthcare issues on February 27, 2020 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Tom Steyer at a town hall meeting on rural healthcare issues on Feb. 27 in Orangeburg, S.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The billionaire was a late entrant in the race, changing his mind after initially saying he wouldn’t run, and jumping into the field in July. Using his personal fortune to solicit donors on social media and leaning on the email list he had put together during his campaign calling for the impeachment of President Trump, Steyer was able to qualify for the October debates, leading to complaints from some of the other candidates in the race that he had bought his placement with the frontrunners.

Steyer made it his focus to try to attract African-American voters, stating in nearly every debate that he was the only candidate on stage in favor of reparations for slavery. His expenditures in South Carolina divided Democrats there, with some accusations that he was attempting to buy support. Steyer was also outspoken in his support for emergency action on climate change, which he also tied to race.

“I believe that in every major policy area, there is an unspoken area about race,” Steyer said in a January interview with Yahoo News. “For instance, I’m saying climate is my No. 1 priority. I’m also saying our climate plan is called a justice-based climate plan. And it starts in the communities, like say, Denmark, S.C., or Flint, Mich., where people can’t drink the water. We know who lives there: African-Americans. We know who lives in the San Joaquin Valley, where people can’t drink the water safely out of the taps: low-income Latinos.”

Compared to the vitriol faced by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the second billionaire to enter the Democratic race, Steyer was generally well-received by his fellow candidates. He briefly became a meme after an awkward moment after the conclusion of January’s debate, where he was attempting to say hello to Sanders while the senator was in conversation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In another debate moment, Steyer said he disagreed with the assertion of the former nominee Hillary Clinton that nobody liked Sanders.

Last year, Steyer also went out of his way to defend former Vice President Joe Biden after Trump urged foreign governments to help investigate Biden and his son Hunter, eventually leading to the president’s impeachment by the House and acquittal by the Senate.

“This is an attempted smear by the Trump campaign. Just the way he tried to smear Hillary Clinton,” Steyer said in a September interview with Yahoo News. “I think that Mr. Biden should be left out of this. I don’t think he’s done anything wrong. I think a bunch of newspapers looked at it and decided he hadn’t done anything wrong.”


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